You’ve seen it before, but sometimes it’s hard to take notice: technology often automates tasks that used to belong to humans. Which means that in the future, even more tasks that are now handled manually will be automated or supported by AI technologies. The integration of chatbots and Big Data analytics tools are just a few examples that prove this change is already happening.
As we move toward the future workplace, the need to keep up with new technologies will become increasingly stronger, making technical skills more relevant than ever.
But why are technical skills so important in particular, and which ones do online learners need the most for the future of work?
Why technical skills are so important
Some people mistakenly believe that technical skills are required only in the IT sector, or in office-setting jobs. But that’s not true. Some level of technical knowledge and skills is essential for most jobs. Take the POS, for instance. Any person working a register, from retail assistants to cab drivers, needs to know how to use one.
Given the wide application of these skills and the ways they improve work efficiency, it’s no wonder why employers are so fond of them. There is more to that, though: a job candidate with technical knowledge has a considerable advantage over others, because they also save employers time and money from training.
5 must-have technical skills for your employees
Do a small search online, and you’ll soon find out that there are many different technical skills out there. But which ones are the most important for today’s employees? Here are the must-haves:
1. Project planning
Project planning is at the core of project management. It’s the roadmap where all the steps necessary to meet the project objectives (and the deadline!) are clearly defined. It involves various processes, such as budget estimation, scheduling, etc.
But what makes it so important? Project planning safeguards a project against unforeseen setbacks, last-minute changes, and lack of coordination. Failure to develop a project plan equals walking into chaos – and possibly away from the client!
2. Quality Assurance (QA)
It comes as no surprise that quality assurance is among the most sought-after technical skills. And it will remain so. In fact, it’s an indispensable part of product development, especially in the software and manufacturing industries.
QA testing involves overseeing the production process from start to finish, with a focus on testing the product through its various phases to spot malfunctions and flaws. It often includes stress testing to estimate the product lifespan. The end goal is a product that meets the client’s quality specifications, government regulations, and consumer expectations.
QA testing saves a lot of time and cost, because flaws are spotted and corrected early on. The product development process runs smoothly, and the product enters the market meeting quality standards. As a result, the number of product returns or withdrawals is limited, too.
But the biggest benefit of QA testing? It helps establish brand credibility, become more competitive in the market, and build a loyal customer base.
3. Big Data analysis
Big Data analysis involves examining large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns, correlations, or trends. This data can be mined from the web, social media platforms, databases, etc. It’s performed with the help of specialized software that encompasses technologies like machine learning and predictive analytics.
Big Data analysis is used in a wide variety of sectors, like banking, transportation, retail, and healthcare. Depending on the industry, it can help lessen risks through fraud detection, make smarter business moves based on the trends discovered, and offer a better, targeted customer experience – all of which translates into more profit.
4. Technical writing
You’re familiar with the broader term of writing. But what about technical writing? It’s the special skill of creating content that explains how to use products or services and follow procedures. It also involves documenting information related to a specific field, e.g., a report about a new product. It’s used in fields like manufacturing, government, IT, and engineering. The purpose of technical writing is not to sell, but to inform.
Technical documentation makes our lives easier and less complicated in ways that we don’t even realize. The user manual that shows how to set up that new piece of furniture from IKEA, loan application forms, the document explaining a company’s anti-harassment policy or emergency procedures are all examples of technical writing. Which is why technical writing is important to your customers and your employees alike.
5. Subject Matter Expert skills
A Subject Matter Expert is an individual that has a deep understanding of a topic or procedure, which comes after years of studying or practicing. SMEs work in several disciplines, from education and law to IT and marketing. They can be a senior customer service employee or an expert in AI technologies helping with software development.
But the role of a Subject Matter Expert isn’t always limited to advisory. They often oversee or participate in projects themselves to make sure their instructions are being followed.
A Subject Matter Expert provides reliable answers and resolves problems that may arise unexpectedly. Highly specialized technical knowledge is often the only way to deliver high-quality products or to offer superb services. Especially so when these products address a very specific consumer base.
Over to you
Technical knowledge is not a stand-alone skill. If there’s one thing that the future workplace requires, it’s a balance between hard and soft skills. As an L&D professional, it’s your responsibility to stay in the loop and update your online courses frequently to include current trends and to help your learners stay curious.
But with every online course you create, you should also work towards enhancing your learners’ personality traits, so they can adapt to the changing reality and thrive in the workplace of the future.