Being digitally savvy could unlock thousands of extra dollars in income, with a new report by RMIT Online and Deloitte showing people with the right digital skills could be earning an extra $7700 per year.
The report finds that job advertisements seeking applicants with digital skills attract a 9 per cent wage premium, though employers said they’re only willing to pay 6 per cent more on average.
Career Industry Council of Australia executive director David Carney said no matter what field you are in, there’s an “explosion” of digital skill and technology requirements.
And Deloitte Access Economics partner John O’Mahony said although employers are reluctant to acknowledge they have to pay a premium, bosses do end up paying higher wages once they need to hire workers.
What digital skills are in demand?
Mr O’Mahony said the report shows upskilling can reward workers.
The most important digital skill is the ability to use the devices and software necessary for your job, he said.
This definition varies from job to job; for an office worker, this could mean the ability to use the Microsoft Office suite, while for a warehouse worker, it could mean being able to use stock or inventory software.
But beyond just using job-relevant software, Mr O’Mahoney said the importance of data in many office jobs means analysis and visualisation skills are often highly valued.
“An ability to [analyse] information and be able to present it in an interesting way … is a very important skill,” he said.
“No matter what occupation or industry you’re in, there’ll always be an opportunity to look at some numbers which are used to make decisions, or show those numbers in an interesting way and help other people understand those numbers.”
How to make the most of your skills
Mr Carney said workers who want more employment opportunities or higher wages need to be proactive and research what skills would be the most attractive to organisations in their industries.
There’s no shortage of courses around to help workers upgrade digital literacy, Mr O’Mahoney said.
You could take a single class or a three- to six-month course on anything from cybersecurity to digital communications while job hunting or working.
Picking up new skills can help workers move from an old job to a new one, or provide the ability to ask for a promotion, Mr O’Mahoney said.
Digital skills don’t mean everything
It’s not just digital skills that employers value, either.
Aside from digital literacy, the report shows Australian businesses are willing to pay more for prior industry knowledge and soft skills.
Mr O’Mahoney said in-demand soft skills include critical analysis, teamwork and leadership abilities.
Unlike digital skills, which you can prove with academic credentials, employers prefer to see your soft skill capabilities in action.
“Obviously, it’s good to do a qualification in leadership or communication, but employers will often be looking for demonstrated proof that you have those skills,” Mr O’Mahoney said.
“The message from that finding is, ask for opportunities to be able to demonstrate those skills like communication or critical thinking.
“That means putting your hand up and saying, ‘Hey, is it OK if I look after this initiative for a little while and report back to you on that?’ … so that you can document building up your demonstration of these skills and practising them over time.”
Mr Carney said while investing in yourself could open the door to more opportunities, you should avoid taking an aggressive or demanding approach to employers.
He said you shouldn’t use the fact you’ve upgraded your digital skills as a bargaining tool for extra money, especially since not all businesses have come out of the pandemic particularly strong.