15 years of digitization significantly shifted job requirements


Dive Brief:

  • U.S. jobs in nearly every category require some degree of digitalization, according to a study from The Brookings Institution. The number of jobs requiring significant digital skills grew rapidly between 2002 and 2016, due mostly to digital-content changes within occupations.
  • In 2002, 56% of jobs required low-level digital skills, 40% required mid-level digital skills and 5% required high-level skills. By 2016, the number of jobs requiring low-level digital skills fell to 30%, the number of jobs requiring mid-level skills rose to 48% and positions requiring high-level skills rose to 23%.
  • Digital skills often command higher pay and offer some job security against automation, researchers at Brookings said. But disparities in wages and job growth exist regionally and may be biased on the basis of race, gender or other factors.

Dive Insight:

Digitalization has made life at home and at work easier in countless ways, but the disparities in pay, job categories, regions, gender and race create recruiting and hiring challenges for HR. A recent study by staffing firm Robert Half found that 77% of technology leaders found it difficult to find talent with up-to-date digital skills.

The jobs requiring low-level digital skills fell significantly in number between 2000 and 2016. These jobs might already be marked for automation, a sign that most jobs of the future will require high-level tech skills. The shift has been particularly hard for older workers, who may be discouraged from job applications that specify the applicant be a “digital native.”

In order to stay competitive, savvy employers have already begun the process of investing in worker upskilling wherever it is financially feasible. Vendors, from large to small, have caught on with the trend, launching comprehensive digital tools and integrations to improve employee training programs.

Even the federal government seems to be onboard, with U.S. Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta repeatedly pledging his commitment to creating and re-evaluating apprenticeship programs. It’s going to take a lot for employers to overcome the displacement of entire skill sets, but employers need to prepare now.


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