You’re sitting in the lobby, waiting for the interview to start, reflecting on everything you learned over these last four years while in college. You’ve mastered everything about accounting and business that you could learn from a professor and a textbook. You’ve graduated. It’s time to land a job and apply what you know in the real world. You’ll rely on these same skills for the entire course of your career.
The scene I’ve painted may have been the reality three decades ago, but those days are over. Now, we must all foster in ourselves and in others a desire for lifelong learning. We have to opt in to our future careers by learning the digital skills that will keep us relevant in the current and future workforce.
By 2020, there will be an estimated one million more computing jobs than applicants who can fill them. The scary truth is the skill sets top employers look for are evolving rapidly as business leaders feel more pressure than ever to hire people who can help their organizations adapt with agility and speed. To make matters worse, very few of the students graduating from colleges and universities today have the skills employers are looking for.
At the heart of the gap between what companies need and what talent can offer are digital and tech skills. World Economic Forum recently reported that computer literacy is now considered a prerequisite for almost all professions. By 2021, 67 percent of US executives expect to choose job candidates with data skills over those without, yet only 23 percent of educators believe their students will graduate with these essential analytical skills. Furthermore, nearly 60 percent of employers say it is common for applicants to lack the tech skills important for long-term career success.
So, you graduated without these skills. Does that mean your chance of a career at the Big Four or anywhere else is over?
Not exactly. The good news is there are tools and programs available that make this education accessible, even after graduation. For example, at PwC we have created resources our people can leverage to further their digital learning on their own time, based on their own needs.
Digital Fitness, for example, is a mobile app we developed to upskill our own staff, and now our clients are using it, too. Through the app, an employee can take a brief assessment to identify strengths and areas of focus for digital training. The app also directs users to personalized learning recommendations, granting access to more than 300 courses, videos, and whitepapers on topics like design thinking, cybersecurity, blockchain, user experience, and artificial intelligence.
Digital Fitness was created as part of our Digital Workforce Transformation initiative, which aims to prepare people for the future in response to a business environment that is becoming increasingly digital, and it is just one example of the many resources employers offer that graduates can take advantage of to diversify their skill sets as they enter the workforce.
If I can leave today’s graduates with any piece of advice, it’s this: Get creative about learning. Become comfortable operating in an environment where you don’t always know what’s coming next year or next month. The ability to act nimbly to address change as it comes will be an invaluable skill in your future career.
Rod Adams is the PwC US talent acquisition leader.