Digital Literacy and the Future of Work: 3 Skills You Need to Stay Successful

computer workplace

As the future of work continues to change, the outlook of nearly every field will keep shifting, particularly when it comes to the integration of modern technology into everyday life. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are no longer science fiction. We work with them daily; from the directions you get on Google Maps to Amazon’s Alexa controlling your oven, integration with this technology is the new normal.

Even jobs that historically have not required much knowledge of computer technology, like car mechanics, for example, are changing. Because modern cars incorporate apps and use integrated computers, mechanics must know how to fix any problems that may arise. The rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) and the regularity with which they are being incorporated into the workplace means that workers will need to change and adapt to stay relevant. Securing your job in the future hinges on developing a new set of skills to solidify your own digital literacy.

What Is Digital Literacy?

When defining digital literacy, the term goes beyond one simply being comfortable with a wide range of technologies. Rather, digital literacy implies not only comfort using technologies but also an understanding of why a particular tool is useful and how to apply it in a practical, real-world situation. Included in digital literacy are skills such as coding, data manipulation and synthesis, scripting programming, and revision control, as well as knowing how to design, use, and manage a wide variety of computerized, automated, or digital systems. Now let’s look more closely at what some of these skills are and how you can improve your knowledge going forward.

technology literacy

Learning to Code

Coding skills are becoming increasingly important in a multitude of career fields, even those outside of traditional computer programming positions. Engineers, research scientists, website designers, and anyone working with data are all seeing an increased need for coding skills in their workplace. The top five careers that value coding skills include engineers, artists and designers, data analysts, scientists, and information technology (IT) workers.

Being skilled in coding also primes you for higher-paying careers. According to Burning Glass Technologies, jobs requiring coding knowledge pay an average of $22,000 more per year than jobs that don’t, while approximately half of all jobs that pay over $57,000 annually require coding skills. Becoming proficient at coding means you will be better qualified for new jobs—and you could end up making more money!

Nowadays, it’s easier than you might think to learn to code. There are a staggering number of online coding courses available, and Google even offers a free program called CS First that is aimed at teaching coding to students in grades 4-8.

Scripting and Programming Skills

Programming skills, like coding skills, have seen an increase in demand across a wide variety of industries. And, like coding, programming skills are valuable for engineers and data analysts, scientists, website designers, and IT workers.

But other types of programming skills are on the rise as well. Scripting programming, for example, involves writing a type of computer language that can execute commands within a file without the need for compilation. Common scripting languages include JavaScript, Perl, Python, and PHP. These languages are designed to make communication and integration with other programming languages easy, and they often appear alongside other programming languages like HTML or C++.

Scripting languages are becoming increasingly associated with building websites, as programmers use them extensively to create dynamic online content. Online courses and continuing education classes to teach programming and scripting languages are incredibly common, making it easy for you to supplement your employable skills by learning a few of the more frequently used programming and scripting languages.

computer software coding

Software Configuration Management and Revision Control

Software configuration management is a division of software engineering that involves tracking and controlling any changes to the software, including the use of revision control and establishing baselines. Revision control deals with managing modifications done to any data set, allowing users to revert to an earlier state before the modification. This makes it easier to identify and correct errors and merge different versions.

Within software engineering, software configuration management is not usually seen as a separate skill; rather, it’s assumed that a good software engineer will be able to handle this type of management. However, learning this skill is important within other disciplines as well, because it doesn’t just apply to software. You can also practice these revision control and baseline skills when working on documents remotely on platforms like Google Docs, OneDrive, or Office 365. Knowing how to access earlier versions of documents or group collaborations and find the tracked changes will make you a valued member of your team in any field.

Keep Improving Computer Science Skills and Secure Your Future

These types of computer science skills are well within the grasp for the average worker. Even a basic knowledge of coding, programming, or software configuration management puts you ahead of the game when it comes to job competition in the changing market. Take the time to add another skill to your arsenal; you’ll stay relevant and bring more value to your current job, improving your job security and chances for promotion to better positions in the long run.