“Clearly, the thing that’s transforming is not the technology; the technology is transforming you.” And there is almost no field where digital technology has not had an impact. As a result, youth must be digitally literate.
This is an exclusive interview conducted by the Editor Team of CIO News with Sandeep Pandita, CIO at Hero Steels Limited
What is digital literacy, and why does it matter?
Digital literacy is a person’s ability to perform various tasks in a digital environment. It involves locating, evaluating, and creating content using technology and communicating effectively with others. It is a set of essential skills to help navigate the information technology network that is critical to the functioning of today’s society.
It’s a form of acquiring the skills you need while living, learning, or working in a world where communication and assessing information are attained through digital technologies such as social media, mobiles, and other digital devices. Furthermore, increase your critical thinking skills to use the information on various digital platforms.
While using such technologies, you will come across several formats of evaluating, searching, applying, and creating information, and all this is possible when you can think critically. It requires many other skills to proceed with further digital situations, such as communication, practical skills, and tools useful for learning.
The correct application of technologies in digital literacy improves people’s quality of life, allowing them to be more productive and efficient at work while developing interactive capabilities through different virtual environments.
Technology has also been a major factor driving changes in the modern workplace. As a result, various new job duties, expectations, and ways of communicating through digital platforms are becoming part of everyday life in all sectors.
Digital literacy today is a bit more important. Digital skills have evolved into basic life skills as a result of the use of smartphone apps that allow customers to purchase goods with the click of a phone.
For our age, digital literacy entails a person’s ability to find and comprehend information online, as well as transform that information into meaningful, shareable content.
While talking about communication, this is a key feature of digital literacy. Whenever you communicate in a virtual world, you might struggle to express your ideas to others. Thus, it is considered the main aspect of delivering your ideas and feedback. Also, it is essential for personal queries such as asking questions in a meeting, respectably maintaining the forum, and creating information in a moral and sustainable manner. However, the learning process never stops due to the continuous updates, but you will be versed in future technologies.
As an IT leader, what are your views on digitally upskilling the youth in the post-COVID era?
As an IT leader, the most important benefit of upskilling the youth is that it will help them to improve and stay productive to deliver a better outcome by fulfilling their organisational goals. Many studies have shown that training your existing employees saves more money than hiring new ones. And, in the post-COVID era, digital technologies are rapidly adapting, resulting in an increased demand for digital skills in areas such as cloud, cybersecurity, AI, data RPA, and so on. But also for talent who are comfortable with new ways of working. As a result, upskilling can assist youth in bridging skill gaps through contentious professional development and learning new feature sets. Learning and updating with new skills that are critical to staying connected with emerging business trends and practises helps personal and professional environments and organisations stay competitive in the market.
And this upgrade in youth will help in education enhancement, reduce unemployment, and promote socioeconomic development. Also, young people will be equipped with a range of technological skills and affordable connectivity access with carrier growth.
How can the youth be digitally empowered? What kind of exposure and engagement opportunities in the educational curriculum can educational institutes implement to raise the interest of youths in upgrading their digital skills?
To empower youth in this digital era, it is important to generate awareness at an early stage. While some institutes are really gearing towards this, many are still using the old methods of education. Previously, the curriculum provided only a sense of direction to the youth; the technologies or thought processes used in real life were far ahead of what was taught in school or college. Now, institutes such as IIMS have started giving their students a year off to try out a start-up, which I think is a fantastic idea to encourage youngsters. And basic digital literacy must be ensured, and educational institutions must also provide courses at an early stage like AI, ML, RPA, etc., which create opportunities for youth to develop skills in fields of rapidly accelerating knowledge, such as robotics, AI, ML, and data science, and, I believe, in a few years, quantum computing. Educational institutions need to be able to give their students the option and opportunity to keep learning and delving into areas of passion. As we can see from previous experiences, the internet has become a primary source of information for children and young people, where they can find anything in seconds while maintaining their rights to freedom and privacy. The role of the internet can be seen as a wide exposure to technology that is expanding globally. As we can see from previous experiences, the internet has become a primary source of information for children and young people, where they can find anything in seconds while maintaining their rights to freedom and privacy. The role of the internet can be seen as a wide exposure to technology that is expanding globally.
On the other hand, schools are planning to continue this technology in the education system, which will provide them with many opportunities in the learning system and allow the student to access knowledge from various platforms. At the same time, they might need to set the timing for screen exposure for teenagers and children.
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?
To drive this initiative, which really is the future demand, and make our kids, colleges, and other peers aware of the importance of technology, school and college teachers need to be fully equipped with digital tools and enhance students’ learning experiences and competencies. As I previously stated, students should be allowed to experiment with new ways of learning from their subjects by utilising digital tools and techniques.
Schools must be technologically savvy; while workshops and crash courses are necessary to drive technology for business, I believe a greater interest can be generated if schools or colleges include a real-life challenge for students to solve using technology.
To do all this, teachers need to achieve the level of competency needed to handle the digital tools used to facilitate students’ practices.
A higher level of digital literacy will make them realise the importance of digital knowledge. Students’ fulfilment skills and social and economic development will improve if schools implement a digital literacy approach.
In the current digital society, digital makes things easy and has become an important part of an evolving curriculum. Thus, thorough training of teachers on digital platforms will be required to fulfil students’ needs. This focus will result in a digitally driven future that will surely upscale students’ developments and give them a greater understanding of the difficulties they face in current society.
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?
Digital skills are a basic necessity to simply function in today’s world. One should be passionate and willing to learn, and then he or she would succeed. As a leader, I would absolutely recommend going with computer science courses (AI-ML, data modeling, coding, and SAP) and enrolling in a computer science degree with a specialisation in said branch of knowledge that piques their interest.
I would also advise, though, that, like any field today, this will require a commitment to lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Youth need to know that the pace of change is very quick, with knowledge becoming obsolete in just five years—there will be a need for continuous skill development. However, the intellectual reward is there, the job opportunities are many and continually increasing, and I think there is a tremendous sense of fulfilment in working in a field where your work will have an impact on many, many users, from your workplace to potentially the whole world. Google, Amazon, and Facebook (Meta) all revolutionised the way we interact and engage with things in our lives. All of these were born out of digital skills coupled with a specific interest.
In addition, a framework for measuring and monitoring digital literacy proficiency among adults and youth must be established.The framework breaks down digital literacy competencies hierarchically:
- On a basic level, it is a person’s ability to manage online accounts, passwords, and privacy settings.
- In the middle are skills like netiquette, managing digital identity, and protecting devices and personal data.
- Problem-solving is at the top of the pyramid, recognizing the ability to creatively use technologies and even solve technical problems by identifying needs and gaps—all considered higher-level digital competencies.
This separates career-related competencies, defining this level of proficiency as “the knowledge and skills required to operate specialised hardware or software for a particular field, such as engineering design software and hardware tools, or the use of learning management systems.”
Hence, in order to survive this digital era, youth will have to be geared up and educated in this area.
Any other points you would like to highlight?
Be flexible and open to adopting changes because technology is evolving, and always advise the youth to follow their passion and do what interests them. Also, be a good teacher and wish everyone the best on their journey as technology leaders.
CIO News, a proprietary of Mercadeo, produces award-winning content and resources for IT leaders across any industry through print articles and recorded video interviews on topics in the technology sector such as Digital Transformation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Cloud, Robotics, Cyber-security, Data, Analytics, SOC, SASE, among other technology topics