Being digitally literate means being able to access and evaluate information, communicate effectively, solve problems, and use technology to achieve goals
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Irshad Saifi, Director IT and Digitization (CDIO) at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co
As an IT leader, what are your views on digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era?
Digital literacy is the ability to effectively use digital technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information. It involves not only the technical skills necessary to use digital tools but also the critical thinking skills needed to assess the accuracy and relevance of digital information. Digital literacy is becoming increasingly important in today’s world as technology is becoming more integrated into our daily lives and the way we work, learn, and communicate.
Having digital literacy skills is important because it can increase access to information, improve job opportunities, and enhance communication and collaboration. In many industries, having digital literacy is now a basic requirement for employment. Additionally, digital literacy can help individuals become better informed and more engaged citizens in a society where access to information is largely digital. It can also help individuals protect their privacy and security online and avoid becoming victims of online scams or cyberattacks.
Overall, digital literacy is crucial for personal and professional development in the 21st century, and individuals who lack digital literacy skills may face significant disadvantages in today’s digital world.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought significant changes to many industries and forced many people to work and learn from home. It is crucial for young people to develop digital literacy skills to prepare themselves for future technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cybersecurity, cloud computing, and other emerging fields.
The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of being able to work remotely and effectively use digital tools to communicate and collaborate with others. Digital literacy skills, including the ability to use digital devices, applications, and software, are essential in today’s world and will be increasingly important in the future.
As technology continues to advance and become more integrated into our daily lives, digital literacy will become an essential skill for everyone, not just for those working in technology-related fields. Being digitally literate means being able to access and evaluate information, communicate effectively, solve problems, and use technology to achieve goals.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital literacy, and it is essential that young people acquire these skills to succeed in the future.
How can the youth be digitally empowered? What kind of exposure and engagement opportunities in the educational curriculum can institutes put in place to pique the interest of young people in improving their digital skills?
There are several ways that educational institutes can implement to raise the interest of youths in up-scaling their digital skills:
- Integrate digital skills into the curriculum: Educational institutes can incorporate digital skills like coding, data analysis, and cybersecurity into the regular academic curriculum to ensure that students get exposure to these skills from an early age.
- Offer specialized digital skills courses: Institutes can offer specialized courses in digital skills, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing, to provide students with in-depth knowledge and hands-on experience in these areas.
- Engage with industry professionals: Institutes can invite industry professionals to speak to students about the latest digital trends, career opportunities, and real-world applications of digital skills.
- Encourage participation in hackathons and coding competitions: Hackathons and coding competitions can help students develop their skills, build their portfolios, and showcase their talent to potential employers.
- Provide access to digital tools and resources: Educational institutes can provide students with access to digital tools and resources, such as coding platforms, simulation software, and online tutorials, to help them learn and practice their digital skills.
Overall, by integrating digital skills into the curriculum, offering specialised courses, engaging with industry professionals, encouraging participation in competitions, and providing access to digital tools and resources, educational institutes can empower youth to develop their digital skills and succeed in the digital age.
Should it become a must for schools, colleges, and other educational institutes to conduct workshops or crash-course programmes to drive home the importance of technology for businesses?
As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in the business world, it would be beneficial for schools, colleges, and other educational institutes to offer workshops or crash-course programs to educate students on the importance of technology for businesses.
These programmes could provide students with hands-on experience in various technologies and tools that are commonly used in the business world, such as data analytics software, AI projects, cloud platforms, cyber security, ethical hacking, enterprise applications, project management tools, and digital marketing platforms. They could also help students develop skills in areas such as coding, cybersecurity, and cloud computing.
By offering such programs, educational institutes can equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in today’s technology-driven business landscape. This could also help students prepare for future careers in technology and business-related fields, which are likely to be in high demand in the coming years.
However, it should not necessarily become mandatory for educational institutes to conduct these programs, as it depends on their resources and priorities. Educational institutes should consider their students’ needs and the industry demands in their region and offer relevant technology-related programs that can help students excel in their chosen career paths.
As an IT leader, what advice would you give to the youth considering a career in the technology industry? What should they know about the industry before starting their career? What challenges they could face in and how do they overcome the challenges?
As an IT leader, here are some pieces of advice that I would give to the youth considering a career in the technology industry:
- Continuously learn and upskill: The technology industry is constantly evolving, and it’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. Continuously learning and upskilling are keys to staying relevant in the industry. I see people in their 40s and 50s worldwide who are also learning and upskilling themselves.
- Gain practical experience: Apart from theoretical knowledge, practical experience is equally important. Try to gain hands-on experience through internships, projects, and freelance work. Even if it is free, you should always work to gain practical experience.
- Build a strong network: Networking is crucial in the technology industry. Attend industry events, join professional organizations, and build relationships with people who can help you grow in your career. Always have a career coach who can help you navigate your way from school to the pinnacle of your profession. Take his consulting advice and always follow it, as it comes from strong experience.
- Embrace innovation: The technology industry is all about innovation. Be open to new ideas and approaches, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new technologies.
- Be adaptable: The technology industry is constantly changing, and it’s essential to be adaptable to these changes. Be willing to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and adapt to new technologies.
As for the challenges that one could face in the technology industry, they could include keeping up with the rapid pace of change, dealing with the pressure to deliver results quickly, and working in a highly competitive environment. To overcome these challenges, it is important to stay focused, prioritize tasks, communicate effectively with team members, and maintain a positive attitude. Additionally, building a strong support system of mentors and peers can help navigate these challenges and provide guidance along the way.
Any other points you would like to highlight?
I would like to add one more practical challenge faced by many students, which is getting a job in the technology industry. My advice is to always focus on excellence and set yourself apart from the crowd. Be someone who is needed by everyone, is willing to work extremely hard, and never shies away from any task. It’s also important to prioritise integrity in everything you do. By following these principles, you can overcome the challenges and succeed in your career in the technology industry.
Also read: Technology leaders are being called upon to serve as kinetic leaders
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