Digital skills are becoming more and more prevalent in everyday life and soon employers will not only recommend, but require digital skills as part of the workforce.

Employers both in the private and public sector are saying that it will be a combination of adaption skills and normal technology skills.

Connect SI Network Provider Coordinator Steven Mitchell said the learning of soft skills such as just a willingness to learn will be required.

“Technology is constantly changing, and it is going to change again five years from now,” he said.

He added that many individuals will need a driving force for them to learn how to use the technology, which could be connecting with family, or just finding employment.

“You are going to be motivated to adapt to the changes that everybody will be faced with,” Mitchell said.

He said once the individual understands that it is necessary to learn those skills, the technological skills will be easier to learn.

Interim Carbondale City Manager Gary Williams said many of hiring managers he has talked to are saying, despite what the public has been taught for the past few generations, it may not be important for all children to get a four-year degree in college, he said, because future manufacturing is very high-tech.

“It doesn’t necessarily require a four-year degree, but very specific training for manufacturing processes,” Williams said.

It will mean more than just knowing how to navigate a computer desktop, Williams said.

People skills, being culturally competent and being able to communication with a diverse group of people are skills that people need to learn if they are going to have jobs in the future, he said.

Williams thinks Southern Illinois is lined up to be successful in the next wave of technologically and job training.

”There resources are here to do it,” he said. “In Carbondale, we have a diverse community, so I think when you look at the future and how society is changing in terms of its demographics, we have an advantage in other rural areas because of that.”

Mitchell said he is hopeful, but the transition might not be as easy because of Southern Illinois’s aging population.

“Southern Illinois as a whole, the populated is skewed as older,” he said. “We have people who are looking for jobs who didn’t grow up with smartphones. That is a big concern.”

He said local community colleges and community training programs can provide people with some of the skills, but a lot of times those people are on their own.

dustin.duncan@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

on twitter: @zd2000

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Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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