Whatever career you’re pursuing, chances are that it’s being transformed by digital technology in one way or another. In many cases, computers are replacing thousands of jobs: a paper by academics at the University of Oxford estimated that half of jobs could be lost to automation over the next couple of decades.
So if you’re planning for a long and fulfilling career, it’s a smart move to brush up on your digital skills, ensuring that you stay relevant in an increasingly high-tech world. According to job search website Indeed, many of the fastest-growing keywords in job ads are related to digital technology, such as mobile app development and HTML5, the coding language that underpins the modern web.
But if you’re already busy with studies or your career, it can be hard to find the time to learn new things: you don’t want to burn out. So we’ve compiled a list of ways to develop skills that can change your life without taking it over.
Teach Yourself Web Development
Whether you’re working for a major corporation or going it alone as a freelancer, your website is one of the most important ways you connect with the world. So understanding how it’s constructed is an invaluable tool. You can launch a career in web design, more efficiently manage a web team in your company, or just build your own site to promote your work and keep complete creative control.
Luckily, learning to code a website isn’t a matter of wading through complicated manuals and textbooks anymore. Organizations such as Codeacademy have created online tutorials that guide you through the basics with practical projects, so you can start seeing results quickly. And you can progress through the curriculum as quickly or as gradually as you like. It’s free, too!
Write Apps for the iPhone
Mobile app developers are some of the most in-demand employees and it’s easy to see why. One in six adults only accesses the internet through their smartphone or tablet, and that number is rising fast. These users tend to spend more time in fast, user-friendly apps than on the web.
Recognising that app development is the future; Apple has created an educational platform for the language used to create iPhone apps, called Swift Playgrounds. It’s simple enough to be used by kids, so expect some fun cartoon graphics, but you learn real coding skills that could help you create the next Angry Birds – or at least help you understand the developers in your company!
Create Excellent Presentations
Succeeding in a digital world isn’t just about engineering: Steve Jobs never wrote any code, but he was widely regarded as the world’s best business communicator and presenter. These days, industries can be transformed with the right Powerpoint pitch deck that convinces investors to back your great idea. So improving your presentation skills can be one of the most important steps you take.
Who better to inspire you than the experts at TED? They turned the Powerpoint presentation into a popular art form that attracted a billion views within six years. A weekend spent looking over their tips will help you craft a presentation that doesn’t bore your readers with bullet points, but inspires them with resonant storytelling and powerful images.
Take a Fun Route to Self-Improvement
What is the internet for if it’s not for making knowledge more accessible? So it’s no wonder that in recent years we’ve seen an explosion of platforms offering formal and informal learning online. If you’re trying to fit in a bit of self-improvement in between your regular studies or the nine-to-five, Highbrow could be a great option.
It’s built around the idea of learning in small chunks that fit into a busy life: a five-minute burst of insight to enjoy with a morning coffee. You can choose from dedicated digital skills, such as SEO fundamentals. Or you can develop business skills for the digital world, such as how to market a start-up. Or maybe you just want to stimulate your brain with something new: take your pick from the history of medicine to surrealist painters. A calligraphy class inspired the design of the Apple Mac – you never know where your best ideas will come from.