21st-Century digital skills for the creative industries

What is the importance of being digitally skilled for employees in the creative industry? Do companies in the creative industry support the development of these required 21st century digital skills?

These were some of the questions addressed in the recently published dissertation of Ester van Laar. Taco was one of the creative directors being interviewed for her research, to share his view on the topic. And as we love being challenged, to keep a critical eye on the things we do, we were happy to contribute to Ester’s dissertation on this matter.

Below we share some of the insights from the interviews with creative directors that stuck with us. (Please note that these are our own outtakes, so no official conclusions of the dissertations as a whole).

• Innovation starts with people. Especially in the creative industries, innovation relies on people and their ability to generate knowledge to solve problems and innovate in organizations. We couldn’t agree more with that!

• In our fast-changing knowledge economy ’21st-century digital skills’ drive organizations’ innovation capacity and competitiveness. They are becoming ‘core’ to our ways of working.

• Higher-order or content-related skills with a strong digital component (e.g. critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving) are essential for a flexible way of working. Something that’s especially relevant in contemporary workplaces such as creative agencies.

• Managers seem to believe that workers’ technical & digital skill levels are naturally high; while in fact, they might require attention. Not everyone naturally possesses 21st-century digital skills or develops them spontaneously.

• Employees experience difficulties with (soft) digital skills such as online expressiveness, the interpretation of information, and consideration of multiple solutions.

• There is a comprehensive concern regarding the ‘skills mismatch’ between education and work. In general, managing directors of creative agencies state that the educational programs are not sufficient to meet all of their expectations.

Close the gap 
So we have some work to do. The (soft) digital skills that are ‘core’ to our way of working and contribute to our critical thinking and creative problem solving, don’t just develop organically.

There’s a gap to close by both educational programs & the creative industries. We need to align on the required digital skills to offer the right educational training and on the job coaching. Because… true innovation starts with people.

Do you agree or want to discuss further on what’s needed to get this done? Feel free to give us a call!