In today’s rapidly evolving global landscape, digital skills have become a necessity rather than a luxury. Digitalization is here to stay. It is no longer news that we are living in a highly digitalized economy, but what is news is that if you fail to acquire digital skills, you may become irrelevant in today’s economy.

Mastering digital skills is not just an option; it’s a critical pathway to personal growth, employability, and financial independence. This is because digital skills are in high demand across various industries. As the world becomes more connected, companies seek employees with the ability to navigate the digital realm. Every year, new tech inventions are springing up, ranging from fintech and edtech products to mobile software, self-driven cars, VR and clouds, AI, robots, etc. And these would only become more prevalent as technology continues to improve, integrate with our affairs, and become part and parcel of our everyday activities. This is where digital skills position you strategically.

Acquiring digital skills opens doors to a wide range of job opportunities, both locally and globally. For instance, proficiency in programming languages like Python or Java can lead to well-paying careers in software development or data analysis. Funding for tech startups in Africa is growing six times faster than the global average. In 2021, funding for tech start-ups in Africa was $4.9 billion, which more than tripled the number in one year.

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.

― Malcolm X

Digital skills will empower you to become a creator and an innovator. The rise of digital startups, often led by young entrepreneurs, showcases the potential for growth in this sector. By learning skills like digital marketing, e-commerce management, and app development, you can start your own business and contribute to economic growth. For example, Flutterwave, a Nigerian fintech startup, raised $170 million in funding in March 2021, highlighting the immense potential for innovation and investment in the digital sector.

 According to the Q4 2021 report by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the ICT sector contributed 15.21% of the total GDP of Nigeria. The technology industry in Nigeria received $75 million from foreign investors in 2019, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria. At the end of 2021, Kenya’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector contributed about 8% of the country’s GDP through IT-enabled services, creating 250,000 jobs.

In addition, the internet is a treasure trove of information and education. Acquiring digital skills will enable you to access online courses, research materials, and global knowledge repositories. Your winning edge in this global, interconnected, and sophisticated world is the digital skills you acquire and how you deploy them. The civilization under which you grew up may have permitted mediocrity, complacency, and traditional ways of doing things. But in this digital era, only the fittest, strongest, and most adaptive to change will survive. In other words, robots and other smart devices have the capacity to take your future away from you. This smart future we are all looking at belongs to those whose minds have been harnessed to solve problems, recognize patterns, and interpret trends, and whose ideas sit at the critical intersection of problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking.

The paradigm of traditional workspaces has undergone a seismic shift since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, remote work and the gig economy have emerged as dominant trends. With digital skills, you can participate in the gig economy, working as freelancers, content creators, or remote employees for international companies. This flexibility provides an avenue for income generation and financial independence. As long as you are good at what you do, there will always be a need for your services, irrespective of your location. More so, as the digital world evolves, so will the need for more and more digital skills.

In a more converging perspective, the advent of technology and the internet have levelled the playing field and connected us to each other. Prior to this time, only A and B could connect because of their physical proximity. But now, A can network directly with Z without involving B, C, D, E, or Y. Technology has elevated the game from localization to globalization. So, the competition for jobs, offers, and platforms is no longer local but global, and gaining digital skills will give you that competitive edge to access remote jobs from any part of the world and position you for global relevance. As of 2023, 12.7% of full-time employees in the US work from home, while 28.2% work in a hybrid model, highlighting the potential for young people to tap into global job markets. In a world driven by technology, you must embrace digital skills as a means to enhance employability, achieve financial independence, access global knowledge, and participate in the gig economy.

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