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Employment and the Need for Technical Literacy

Technical literacy has progressed from desirable to unnecessary to required for many of today’s jobs. Ironically, due to its skill-focused rather than academic-focused nature, universities generally avoid technology training. Many college educated job applicants lack the training in the software they’ll need to utilize daily for their prospective careers. Due to the extra training cost, these applicants become cost prohibitive to hire. Consequently, despite their degrees, they are automatically excluded from much of the job market. Luckily, technology instructional software is abundantly available online, thereby allowing you to bag a job before or soon after graduation.

The middle-skill job market is 39 percent of the American economy. It consists exclusively of jobs that require more than a high school diploma and less than a bachelor’s degree (Burning Glass). Due to its market size, it provides many indicators of the present and future needs of the job market as a whole. When looking at the middle-skill market, the importance and eventual dominance of jobs requiring technology skills is glaring. Between 2003 and 2013, jobs requiring technology proficiencies grew at two and a half times the rate of jobs that didn’t. Now, nearly 4 out 5 jobs require technical knowledge. Not only does technical knowledge affect the ability to enter the job market, but it also affects how much you make once in it. Jobs requiring technical skills pay eighteen percent more than jobs not requiring technical skills (Burning Glass). These reasons make the acquisition of software proficiencies lucrative.

While some programs are almost exclusively used in certain industries, others are more universal. Depending on your career’s stage, you may want to learn more general or more niche technical skills. Some software programs utilized across industries are Microsoft Suite’s Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, which 67 percent of jobs require proficiency in (Burning Glass). Other software programs such as Salesforce and SAP can help you obtain a job in sales. Meanwhile, Photoshop and InDesign can help you snag a design or marketing job. Each technology has its function and plays a critical role in the day-to-day activities of certain jobs. By coming to the interview table already possessing these skills, you save employers hundreds of dollars in training cost, and drastically increase your likelihood of being hired.

The ability to self-teach has become a necessary personality trait. It is up to you to prepare yourself for the job market, not your school, therefore you must always evaluate if and how your education is preparing you for your future. Job applicants must learn to pair and blend academic with technical education to make themselves the most equipped to successfully move directly into a job. There are web tutorial services that will make you eligible for higher paying jobs: the Kahn Academy and Lynda.com. Both of these video-based platforms contain pre-screened tutorials in a variety of subjects and skills. They serve as an opportunity for you to compensate for gaps in your education and approach the interview table from a position of value to the company.