Closing The Digital Skills Gap

Keeping your data secure and exclusive is, and will always, be a top priority for society. Whether it be bank information, photographs or confidential business intell, you deserve to have your data protected and stored without the impending doom of a security breach. 

New innovations and technological advances are always being updated, changed and modified to improve overall user experience. While this constant process of tweaking is crucial to the success of these innovations, it brings forth the issue of struggling to protect one’s data. Because of the recent increase in the pace of updating innovations, businesses and business professionals are finding it exceedingly more difficult to keep track of data and ensure the information is securely protected. Unfortunately, there is a lack of qualified professionals in the existing workforce who can properly address and maintain data security. This lack of qualified professionals available to keep up with securing data created what is known as the digital skills gap. 

Statistically speaking, the digital skills gap is becoming an increasing problem on a national and global scale. According to Businesswire, the United States is falling behind in digital skills mainly due to this gap. In fact, the U.S. is actually ranked 29th globally in digital skills. Even though the U.S. is a technologically advanced country, it is important to note the falling statistics with digital skills — especially because digitized innovations are increasing in quantity by the second. So, what can we do to protect our data amid this crisis? 


What Exactly is the Digital Skills Gap

Before getting into the how of turning this statistic around and increasing data security, we have to touch on the what. What exactly is the digital skills gap?

According to CPO Magazine, the digital skills gap is occurring because technology is quickly and fundamentally changing — altering the way a large part of the workforce carries out their jobs. These changes leave professionals unqualified to meet the demand for the new digital skills required to keep up with innovating technologies. In other words, advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies are happening in shorter cycles at more rapid paces causing a change in the job required and the skills needed for overall success, leaving a disconnect between digital skills and businesses.

While the lack of trained professionals is an ongoing concern regarding the gap, another ongoing issue in the workforce is continually causing the digital skills gap to become more and more detrimental. Young professionals are rejecting jobs in the IT field, absent from IT course enrollment and avoiding IT entirely.  

The biggest concern for many businesses in this gap in the workforce is the risk it poses to cybersecurity and keeping data protected from all threats. Cyber attacks are an extremely pressing issue in society, so much so that a cyber attack occurs almost every 39 seconds, according to Cobalt.


What is Causing the Digital Skills Gap?

Aside from the broad idea that the rapid rate of innovative changes opened up the gap in digital skills, it is important to understand the specific causes that created such a massive issue and the direct points causing it to widen so that we, as a workforce, can work towards closing it entirely. Digital Skills Global details and breaks down three factors that feed into and continue to cause the digital skills gap:

  • Lack of Graduates
      • There is a substantial lack of properly trained recent graduates in the technology industry who are interested and ready to fill much-needed digital positions. This is greatly inhibiting the growth of many businesses and whole economies, as well. 
  • Lack of Digital Skills
      • Teaching an already trained group of individuals to develop digital products is an enormous challenge. Established tactics are difficult to modernize or conform to, especially when new tactics are always changing. Even though this is an ongoing challenge, organizations that do not keep their employees digitally trained are likely to be left behind by companies that take on this challenge. They’re also more likely to experience a cybersecurity breach. 
  • Accelerator Digital Innovation
      • 91% of businesses in the U.S. accelerated their digitization plans in 2020. However, the necessary skills to keep that digitization secured did not grow with businesses’ growth. The U.S. has fallen behind many countries in data science and technology skills; it is ranked 35th and 30th, respectively. 


Why Should We Care?

A question that oftentimes sneaks into our heads is why we should even take the time to understand and educate ourselves on this issue. In this case, ignorance is most definitely not bliss. The IT industry is undoubtedly complex. The world protecting it, the cybersecurity industry, is even more intricate because it requires meticulous analysis of each IT aspect or feature to produce and maintain true protection.

It is also important to understand the digital skills gap because once you decide your company may need a skilled IT professional, you may not be able to find one. If you know how to properly educate your existing employees and yourself about cybersecurity threats, you will be well-protected before a crisis occurs. 



How Can We Close This Gap?

One way businesses and educators can help improve this issue is by acknowledging the gap and understanding the underlying problems behind it. The best way to address the increasing digital skills gap is to provide students and professionals with the best learning resources in the field of IT. Doing this will help ensure that current students and professionals will actively learn how to keep up with rapidly changing technology.

In addition, the standardization of cyber training practices from students to professionals can help current and next-generation professionals become experienced, empowered and enthusiastic about increasing IT roles and addressing the growing cybersecurity threats. When you are in the know and completely comfortable with the job at hand, more efficient work is the product.


Educate Your Employees

According to Burning Glass Technologies, over 82% of middle-skill jobs require digital skills. However, there is a lack of proper training and education in digital skills. According to Forbes, it is a necessity for practically every employee to increase their digital aptitude. Why should employees improve their digital skills? To collaborate with colleagues and customers, respond quickly to changes in the business environment, maintain a company’s edge and help protect businesses against cybersecurity threats. 

Having a properly educated workforce in digital skills can help businesses tenfold. A team of properly educated employees helps you stay ahead of your competitors, maintain more satisfied employees, create custom skill sets among your employees along many more benefits. But, most importantly, a properly digitally trained workforce can keep your business’s most important data secured. 

Here are a few tips to educate yourself and your employees in digital security, according to Prey Project

  • Teach employees how to spot suspicious activity
      • Show your employees what suspicious activity on their work devices might look like. Tell your employees to look out for the following suspicious activity: strange pop-ups, slowed-down devices, new extensions in the browser and losing control of the keyboard or mouse. 
  • Emphasize the importance of confidentiality
      • Continually remind your employees of the importance of keeping their passwords private. Even if your employees are working from home, reminding them of the importance of keeping their passwords secure and authenticated is important. It is also crucial to introduce two-factor authentication to your employees’ accounts.  Don’t let your employees get too comfortable, even if they’re working from their own homes.  
  • Teach employees good device ownership
      • Emphasize the difference between employees using devices for personal and professional uses. Teach your employees the dangers of device theft. remember that it’s always a good idea to incorporate mandatory work accounts that are subject to web filtering. 


Let MDL Help Protect Your Business

Cyber hacks can happen to any business at any time, no matter the size. With a shortage of IT professionals and a general lack of digital education among Americans, you should focus on keeping your business’s data secured, especially among rapidly changing technology.

MDL offers 24/7 network monitoring and cybersecurity services targeted to help protect your business from data breach threats. 

At MDL, we make it a priority to implement the best practices for your business when it comes to cybersecurity. Our services help train your employees to spot the warning signs of cyber threats and add an extra level of protection by backing up data externally. In the event that your data is lost, stolen or manipulated, it will always be secure with MDL. Don’t let your business be a victim of a cyberattack, and get protected with MDL Technology today.

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