The most in-demand technical skills—and how to develop them

Think technical skills and you might think of something related to IT or technology – maybe data science, or computer programming. But in reality, the term “technical skills” covers a variety of “hard” skills necessary for many jobs and industries. A lot of it has nothing to do with IT.

What are technical skills?

Technical skills vary by industry, but they basically boil down to the skills and abilities required to perform a specific job task, whether digital or physical. In other words, they are practical skills needed to do the job successfully.

So, if you are a nurse, your technical skills will include inserting IVs, reading patient charts, and all other tasks related to providing patient care. If you are a truck driver, your technical skills revolve around being able to safely drive a huge truck and deliver goods where they are needed. And so on, whether you’re a plumber, a hairstylist, an accountant or a lawyer…whatever your role is, there will be skills and expertise specific to your industry – digital and physical. These are your technical skills.

Technical skills for future needs

The nature of work is changing, and technology is playing a bigger role in almost all occupations. However, even as more and more tasks become automated, technical skills remain of enormous value. In fact, in the complex, hybrid workplace of the future – where tasks and goals are accomplished through a combination of machines and humans – I believe that technical skills will become more valuable than ever.

So, what skills are most in demand in our rapidly evolving workplace?Obviously, technology Skills in coding, artificial intelligence and data science It’s already very popular.But aside from IT and technology, some basic tech skills for a 21-year-oldstone– Century work may include:

· Customer relationship management

· project management

· Social media management

· Content creation such as video

· Product development and product lifecycle management

· Technical writing, or the ability to explain complex topics in simple English

· Data literacy, or the ability to use and understand data effectively

· Mechanical maintenance

How to develop your technical skills

Of course, specifics will vary, but in general, you develop technical skills through a combination of training, education, on-the-job learning, and good old-fashioned experience. With that in mind, here’s how to make sure your tech skills stay sharp:

A good place to start is to encourage your employer to invest in the technical training you need to do your job. As part of this, consider the growing role of technology and how new technologies can change some aspects of your work. For example, project managers may find themselves increasingly overseeing remote team members and may want to update their knowledge of tools that facilitate remote collaboration.

· In addition to workplace learning, you need to take an active, independent approach to learning if you want to keep up with the latest topics and trends in your industry. I find that books, audiobooks, trade magazines, and podcasts are the easiest way to keep up with what’s going on in my field. Try to use this self-directed study as your personal growth time, not just another burden on your to-do list.

· Register for relevant online courses. No matter which field you choose, there are plenty of online structured courses available through providers like Coursera and Udemy. For example, Udemy offers courses on everything from wiring to making marketing videos. If possible, look for courses that offer small-scale learning tools (think short videos, quizzes, short tutorials, etc.). Not only is this easier to integrate into everyday life, but short, focused study sessions are great for knowledge retention.

· Look at informal learning channels such as YouTube. There is so much information on YouTube that many educators, myself included, see it as a way to provide informative, engaging content.

· If possible, make learning social by collaborating with other learners. For example, are there others in your organization facing the same challenges or on the same educational path? Sharing experiences helps foster accountability and makes learning more fun.

· Learn from others in your field, perhaps through job placements or collaborating with a mentor. Spending time with experts is a great way to learn practical and technical skills.

· Finally, adopt the mindset of a lifelong learner, constantly curious and passionate about learning new things. This is critical because technology evolves so quickly that almost all jobs will change in some way. I believe this rapid development will not only not reduce the importance of technical skills, but will make technical skills more important than ever – but as technology evolves, it requires you to constantly keep your skills sharp.

To stay on top of future trends and future skills, be sure to subscribe my newsletter Check out my new book, Future Skills: 20 Skills and Competencies Everyone Needs to Succeed in the Digital World.

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