Promoting Digital Skills to meet the demands in the job market

21/07/2022

Never as in recent years in the job market some professional figures struggle to be found. But what are the causes of this problem? Let's find out together.

A different crisis is affecting the job market right now; not the usual lack of jobs, or a crisis of contracts (problems that are always present and serious anyway). What we are seeing in recent times is an incisive gap between supply and demand; not so much from a quantitative point of view but, in this case, from the qualitative side.

While the general level of employment is going down, some occupations, especially related to the digital job market, are becoming extremely difficult to find. There is a question of whether this mismatch is due to an actual lack of specific skills in the generation of new workers or whether, overall, the supply of figures cannot keep up with the development of the market.

An EU market failing to keep up with demand

The current situation of the job market in Europe is, although heterogeneous and dissimilar overall, not too comforting.

If we look at four Central European countries, covering both the spectrum of the Mediterranean and Northern European economies, namely Switzerland, Italy, France and Germany, it becomes easier to draw a general picture. These are, however, four realities that are close to each other both geographically and, in some ways, culturally.

The data collected show that at the European level there have been two different types of employment declines: one related to the number of people employed, the other concerning the total hours worked.

While on average the level of people employed (14-65 age group) has fallen by about 6 percentage points, the number of hours worked has had a smaller, though still worrying, decrease (about 0.5 percent). Youth employment figures (16-24 age group) are on average not too positive (except for Switzerland, with 60 percent of young people employed). Another interesting finding is that in both age groups there is a difference, albeit not substantial, between a “Mediterranean” (France and Italy) and a “continental” (Switzerland and Germany) age group; the finding is certainly not new, and has social and anthropological roots going back a long way.

Despite the declining percentages in the last two years, mainly due to the pandemic situation, there is a growing figure: the demand for digital professionals.

internet digital skills

Need to reshape one’s skills with a digital perspective

This shift in demands is a direct consequence of the evolution of the market; the shift to an increasingly dematerialized economy, almost 80 percent of which is carried out on the Internet, has made the need for specialists in various digital professions increasingly high. This change brings with it several social micro-revolutions; the educational system over time will have to conform to this kind of training, also dematerializing as much as possible. Interchange and relationship dynamics are profoundly changing; however, personal relationships are not affected (online workflow makes physical relationships outside working hours more necessary).

The new figures required by the digital market

The exponential growth of this market has required the creation (or in some cases the evolution or adaptation) of several professional figures; these are the much sought-after digital professions. Not only that, however; other types of professionals, not always radically related to the IT market, are also seeing their field of employment expanding.

The return to what is now called the new normal, that is, the resumption of the post-pandemic pace of work and life, has confirmed and accelerated an outcome that many had predicted: the future and present of the labor market are, essentially, digital.

Among the professional figures to be implemented as soon as possible in the company, we have identified some that, by their peculiarity, can mark the difference between a mediocre reality and one that is, literally, riding the wave of the digital wave:

  • people specialist – the presence of a human resources manager is no longer that of a conflict mediator, recruiter or payroll compiler; it is increasingly a pivotal subject in the corporate landscape: employee experience is the focus in managing human relations at the corporate level;
  • UX designer – the user experience, when offering a service, is the linchpin to the success of one’s business. Whether offering a physical solution or a digital product, user-side reaction and usability are both the most important means of communication and the best metric for judging and calibrating one’s performance;
  • Growth Hacker – among the most interesting and in-demand figures, especially for start-ups and high-growth environments, this is a marketing professional who pushes business growth by focusing on unconventional strategies. One moves away from classical mechanisms and paradigms, takes chances, measures, and repeats;
  • content strategist – “content is king”: many of us have read and reread this famous formula. Well, it is still true: the multiplication of platforms and realities makes it fluid and multifunctional, and a professional who knows how to decline messages and languages adapting to the new media is a figure that is indispensable today.

The most interesting fact we are constantly dealing with is this: the university, but in general the world of education, still has not fully adapted to market demands.

digital skills

That’s where the gap lies: quality, not quantity

This does not mean that studying is useless; a basic academic preparation is in most cases essential.

However, it is also true that a significant part of the skills required by companies today is essentially related to personal experience. All of this generates a rather problematic paradox; while on the one hand young workers are required to have skills that university can hardly provide, on the other hand they are not given the opportunity to mature them because more experience is required. It becomes clear that, in this climate of skill mismatch, many young people fail to enter the labor market, and many recruiters fail to find suitable personnel.

One factor to focus on is direct contact with the resources to be selected; in fact, the assessment of hard and soft skills must go through some sort of direct “verification.”

A CV can certainly tell us a lot, and give us the information we need to make an initial skim; sometimes, however, we should go beyond the resume and verify some of the feelings that, perhaps from a message or a phone call, have revealed a talent that has not been totally expressed in describing itself.

So here is an economics graduate with a passion for IT who becomes an IT manager, a translator who loves writing becomes an SEO copy, a former accountant who manages logistics: sometimes the combinations are curiously interesting, but they help to understand how the recruiting dynamics of many HRs are still too much tied to the document and less to the resource.

Continuous and collateral training

One important piece of advice that can be given to the new generation of workers and recent graduates is this: companies are not just looking for the title; many soft skills, or many primary skills now, can be safely acquired on their own, taking advantage of and deepening the new knowledge demanded by the digital world.

Take advantage of online courses, webinars, MOOCs and study; focus on personal branding and show your value in a practical and direct way. Finally, demonstrate how crucial your expertise is to the company for which you apply-these are just a few small secrets.

For recruiters: go beyond the CV; skills should be tested, not told.