Why Digital Skills?

With the emergence of the personal computer and the internet came certain opportunities that humanity has never had or dreamt of in decades past. It is often said that the ‘world is a global village’ because of how people have become connected no matter their geographical locations and the level of access they have to information. People have access to information with so much ease because of the invention of the World Wide Web and it has led to the creation of endless opportunities for humanity.

As the technological world continues to advance, we see the emergence of what many call the ‘Digital Economy’. It is a term that is used in reference to an economy that is based on digital computing technologies. This has made it necessary for individuals to acquire skills that will help them solve problems and in effect make them employable in such economies. The need to possess a wide range of Digital Skills can never be over-emphasized and that is exactly what this article is about. 

Digital Skills are defined by UNESCO as “as a range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information”. These set of skills have become sought after by most corporate, academic and government institutions. All industries require the people they employ to be somewhat skilled in relevant digital skills to help them remain competitive on the market. These skills include email management and marketing, social media marketing / account management, graphic designing, video editing, data analytics, search engine optimization etc. It is only right for individuals to get abreast with these skills, find out which ones apply to their chosen career path, where to learn them and how to apply these skills in a job setting or in providing solutions for real world problems. I mentioned that individuals need to find where to learn these skills because in a country like Ghana, most of these skills are not being taught in our tertiary institutions. Although one can find a course or two in university curricula that teaches some digital skills, not all of them can be learnt in schools in Ghana. Hence, people often settle for various online platforms as the source of their information concerning the digital skills of their choice. This issue will be dealt with later on in this article.

Africans are often left behind in the prevalence of new technology around the world. It takes years for us to catch up with the rest of the world especially when it has to do with technology. Are we going to do the same with digital skills especially in this Global Digital Economy we live in? Certainly not! According to “Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan AfricaSpotlight on Ghana” by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), “in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 230 million jobs will require digital skills by 2030, resulting in almost 650 million training opportunities”. This indicates that there is the need for governments all over the continent to pay particular attention to digital skills and make it easy for citizens to acquire these skills because in the next few years, it would take a certain level of dexterity in digital skills for the unemployed to gain employment. This phenomenon is already taking place, it may not be widespread but there are organizations on the continent who are looking for individuals who are highly skilled in using the internet, software, online applications etc. to make them more effective and efficient at work.

Again, according to the IFC report “Ghana alone will offer 9 million digital jobs and nearly $4 billion in revenue potential through 2030”. This goes a long way to prove that digital skills need to be at the fingertips of the youth, especially those who are getting to or are already in their employable ages. 

How can one acquire these skills? In many instances, people resort to online resources available on Youtube and other sites that either provide video or text tutorials. There are also online courses called Massive Open Online Courses popularly referred to as MOOCs. They are often courses available online characterized by open access and unlimited participation. Many people resort to these resources to learn digital skills and apply them in their daily work. It is only right in the digital age for everybody to take advantage of the opportunities available and make the best out of them. However, we understand that there are a number of people who may still not be privy to this information and hence are lagging behind in the ever-changing technological world that we find ourselves in. This is why Mobile Web Ghana and its partners are organizing the Africa Digital Skills Conference

This virtual conference is expected to converge both those who are highly skilled and those seeking knowledge in Digital Skills. The Africa Digital Skills Conference (#ADSC2020) is a three-day virtual Conference that will create a platform for both knowledge sharers and knowledge seekers to connect, share information and learn Digital Skills. The conference, which will be facilitated both in English and French, is scheduled to take place from 10th to 12th November, 2020 and it is fully virtual.

As an organization that has been building the capacity of young tech-enthusiasts in mobile and web application development, data analysis and visualization, web designing, etc., this is our quota in helping more young people gain digital skills to make them employable in the ever-competitive job market in Africa. If you would like to register either to participate or lead one of the training sessions, please find the links below:

Participants registration form:  http://africadigitalskillsconference.org/registration-form/

Trainers’ registration form: https://bit.ly/32l9A6Y