Pi515 prepares the students it serves to be attractive job candidates by providing them with digital skills and with the soft skills necessary for success in any career field. Contributed photo

If the last 18 months have taught us anything, it’s that the future is uncertain, and severe disruptions are likely. Predicting the needs of the labor market years down the line may feel like an incomprehensible task. However, if only one thing can be said for certain, it’s that the demand for digital skills in all job sectors will only rise.

The Digital Talent Forecast, published by Emsi Burning Glass in early 2021, collected data from over 13 million job postings within the United States. The results are clear: Employers from every field are seeking applicants who possess digital literacy. From the field of computer science to the field of sales and marketing, candidates with digital skills and the ability to navigate computer programs are more attractive to employers than applicants without these skills.

Even employees in nontechnical fields, such as retail and food service, are still expected to use point of sale software and inventory management systems. The world is becoming increasingly digitized, and as businesses adjust to operating during a pandemic, employees in all fields are required to navigate computer systems.

However, the most attractive applicant is not just one that is digitally literate, but one that possesses nondigital skills, or “soft” skills. The ideal candidate can manage their time, cooperate with others, and exhibit leadership and professionalism just as well as they can use digital systems. It is far easier for an employer to train a new hire on the specifics of a program rather than how to work with others in the office. In current times, the possession of both digital and nondigital skills makes any employee an asset to an environment where they may work remotely while maintaining professional connections online.  

So where does Pursuit of Innovation fit in?

Pi515 prepares the students it serves to be attractive candidates by providing them not only with digital skills, but also the soft skills to succeed in any career field they choose. Students can enroll in computer science classes and be hired to teach these same classes to middle schoolers, giving them both education and experience. Summits and leadership seminars inspire students and the greater community to achieve academic excellence. We connect students with the most important tools they need to succeed: computers and reliable internet access.

With the recent donation of 300 hot-spot devices from AT&T and Connected Nation, 300 households and 600 students in grades K-12 have reliable Wi-Fi at home. During an event sponsored by Google Fiber, every hot-spot recipient received a course on digital literacy skills. Not only can we now directly serve more students learning remotely, but they can more easily succeed in their academics.

Our work with low-income, Black, Indigenous, people of color and female students specifically seeks to bridge the gap between those interested in digital fields and the makeup of employees in those fields. Potential applicants most likely to be dissuaded from applying for jobs requiring specific digital skills are disproportionately female and people of color.

We prepare our students by equipping them with not only technical skills but also the soft skills that make them the most competitive candidates. Even if a student does not possess the specific digital skill that an employer is looking for, they can feel confident in their ability to succeed in a variety of career fields. We work to equip more students with the tools to succeed in the workforce, and the confidence to apply for jobs that interest them, not just ones that they possess all the skills for. Although the future is uncertain, the students served by Pi515 are prepared to enter their careers of choice as the most attractive job candidates they can be.

Learn more at www.pi515.org.