Aside from the obvious need for computer skills in the job market nowadays, what else is changing in terms of what skills today’s job applicants will need to land decent jobs?
And, as a follow-up, what job preparedness courses or programs would you recommend to a young man who did not attend college?
Thanks for your time
That’s a good question. When we speak of “computer skills”, that could mean a variety of things. The most traditional and longstanding implication of that term is programming. Today, there is much talk and attention paid to “coding”, which is the modern day buzzword for programming. But in recent years, coding is not just a job title but a skill that might be useful in various areas such as science, business, and even the arts. So, I would say that coding is something in which people in or planning on going into different fields should be conversant.
On a different level, we can speak of being generally proficient with electronic or digital devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PC’s. Familiarity with not only the hardware but also the applications or programs running on those platforms is essential for almost any job. While years ago, only techies would need to know how to use these technologies, today other jobs require being conversant in them. Regarding the programs on these devices, I would say being proficient in Internet searches, Word, Excel, and email is something on which everyone must be up-to-speed.
My last approach to the question would be the importance of what are known as “soft skills”. In most cases, this manifests itself in communicating appropriately with others. Ironically, one of the oldest and perhaps most lacking contexts in which people today often fall short are phone skills. Given that our communication today is often reduced to texts and voicemail messages, this is often a lost art. The ability to speak clearly, be polite, and respect the time and place of the person on the other end of the phone is an area where I see many being challenged. This also includes behaviors such as returning messages promptly and following through on commitments.
On your follow-up question, it’s hard to say. It might very well be predicated on what the young man learned or did not learn in high school. In many cases, there is no substitute for a college degree and as such the young man should consult with a professional mentor who has had success in the desired field and consider completing a degree at a recognized educational institution. That said, I would not focus so much on a “course” per se, but skills. I would say that English writing is a critical one in pretty much all vocations which takes learning, practice, and application. So, a course in that would be one recommendation. Another would be basic technological literacy including some of the platforms and applications I made reference to above. In terms of programs, I would encourage people to look at those which lead to industry standard certifications. Those would mostly apply to the coding fields.