ReadyPerhaps you see the headline and think, “Who cares? I don’t want to work on computers. I don’t want to be a techie. I’ll keep working in non-digital fields.”

Unfortunately, in just a few years, you’re going to have a very, very rough time avoiding digital work. By 2020, over 90 percent of European jobs will require computer skills. As for my American readers, don’t assume you’re totally safe: the rise of digital jobs is a global trend, and about 45 percent of all American jobs are at risk of being wiped out by computerization. If you want to stay active in the workforce, it’s in your best interest to learn how to work with the computers that (might) replace you

“Many people will have to upskill in order to keep their jobs,” says Raffaela Rein, CEO of CareerFoundry, the largest coding and user experience design boot camp in Europe.

Easier said than done, right? Well, in a twist of fate, the very technology that’s forcing employees to upskill is the very technology that will make upskilling easier for them. Enter online digital skills programs like CareerFoundry and Codeacademy.

“I think that online learning is really powerful,” Rein says. “So many people — especially when they’re in a job or when they have already finished their degrees — they have a life. They don’t want to sit in school all day or quit their jobs, and I think an online option is ideal for those people.”

But Rein also believes that the online option works best when paired with a bit of the old human touch: “With many online programs, people feel like there’s no help, like no one is checking their work. That automatically decreases their motivation and decreases the quality of the outcomes. We [at CareerFoundry] offer an online mentored service where we hook up students with a mentor who pushes them to become excellent, who really checks their work, and who makes them accountable for what they’re doing.”

From Unemployed to Successful Programmer in Three Months

Maybe you’re still wary. After all, the machines are the ones threatening your job in the first place. Why go to them for help, even if a real live human mentor is involved?

Allow me to introduce Spyros Fotiou, whom Melinda Barlow also mentions in her post for us about the technology skills gap.

Fotiou hails from Greece, where overall unemployment was 25.9 percent in November – and that’s considered low for Greece in recent years. Youth unemployment tends to be even worse: 49.8 percent in October. It comes as no surprise, then, that a young man like Fotiou couldn’t find employment. So Fotiou took a leap of faith, enrolled in classes with CareerFoundry, and decided to move to Berlin.

“He took the course because it was tremendously difficult finding a job,” Rein reports. “Now he has interviewed with some of the largest startups in Berlin for junior front end positions and is now working for a software development company in Munich.”

And all of this happened in only three months.

Rein says Fotiou’s story, while not strictly typical, does present a good picture of what upskilling through online courses can help people achieve.

“We [at CareerFoundry] have two types of people,” Rein says. “We have the students like Spyros [Fotiou] who are looking to train into a new career, but we also have a lot of people that are already in jobs and want to upskill. They obviously don’t have drastic life events like moving to a new city and beginning a new career, but they also have amazing, amazing changes in their jobs and new opportunities open up.”

Humbly, Rein doesn’t want CareerFoundry to take all the credit for Fotiou’s success: “We’re obviously only the gateway. In the end, somebody who doesn’t put in the effort, who doesn’t put in the sweat, is not going to get out as much.”

The moral of this story – the rise of digital and Fotiou’s journey to employment — is a surprisingly positive one, according to Rein: “A lot of things are possible that haven’t been possible before. The demand there is for technical talent opens doors where even as a junior person you all of a sudden find yourself in high demand. This particular student, Spyros [Fotiou], he was absolutely surprised. He comes from Greece, and it had been very, very tough for him for years. Suddenly, the opportunities that opened up for him were exhilarating.”

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