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The 21st Century’s Need for Qualified Digital Media Specialists

February 12, 2019




We thrive in a culture of innovation. For young people, that means more than half of the jobs they will pursue do not even exist yet. The digital skill set required to rise to the challenge of the 21st-century job market requires individuals to increasingly be plugged in and switched on. Digital Media is constantly adapting to new ways of accessing and consuming information, and products.


In demand are individuals with the skills and experience in the full digital media mix, and a solid understanding of how digital media impacts the bottom line. Digital Media careers are lucrative and there is a high demand for qualified professionals that can generate massive profits for large-scale organizations and as well as small businesses.


In November of 2018, the LinkedIn Workforce Report stated that some of the most in-demand skills across the country are digital communication skills and digital literacy.  What is surprising is that jobs were not just coming from marketing firms but from public safety, corporate services, software and IT services industries. Even large markets such as New York and San Francisco are experiencing huge digital media skills gaps in the next generation of employees.--making individuals with digital media skills highly sought after.






According to a recent study from the Pew Internet & American Life project (Anderson & Jiang, 2017), 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% say they are online 'almost constantly'. Over half have created media content, and  33% of teens who use the Internet have shared content they produced. While this means they are capable of navigating through 21st-century media, it does not give the high-level skills to succeed needed in the marketplace.


Digital Media skills are often overly generalized and many associate digital media with social media. While there is a connection, there are other digital media skills, that are in high demand such as video, SEO optimization, content management, and more. Research conducted by Deloitte Research shows that while many technical skills prized, they decay in value as more people acquire proficiency in those skills. Therefore it is important for the next generation of workers to have not just hard skills but soft skills as well. Skills like comfort with technology, ability to adapt, multitasking and creativity must be combined with technological knowledge.


Having skills in technical computing, communication, statistics, project management, marketing, and/or content management are now prerequisites for most positions.


STEM no longer tells the whole story of skills needed in the 21st century. Jobs based on math, science, and engineering are vulnerable to automation, so they should be complemented with soft skills and other strengths as well.


While the core need for technical skills remains strong, another theme has entered the job market: the need for people with skills in communication, interpretation, design, and synthetic thinking. In a way, we can think of these as the arts, hence the evolution of education from STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) to STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Art, Math)





Over the last decade the Internet has changed the way we communicate. Today's workplace utilizes smartphones, texting, tweeting, Skyping, Zooming, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook video, LinkedIn, Google apps and much more. The power of modern media and the ubiquity of communication technologies in all aspects of life make learning strong communication skills more important. The 4 C's (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity )are the core of every organization and are skills that have been identified as the most important skill set of the 21st century. The next generation must embrace the concept of digital citizenship. More importantly, they must be able to understand the full power of digital tools and technology and adapt that to a rapidly changing society and workplace.


21st-Century employers are moving away from static jobs with concrete descriptions, and they are shifting toward hybrid roles that require technical and analytical skills and value soft skills like communication, original content, and teamwork. Global interconnectivity and demographic shifts are resulting in a workplace vastly different from the 20th century. The new work environment is characterized by mobile, tech-savvy, younger and virtual teams. There is a newfound culture that promotes on-demand content, tools, and talent.


While many companies have outsourced specialized tasks over the years, big companies still need a myriad of technical and professional talent. Ideally, a combination of both; the hybrid job.


A 2014 survey of 600 marketers found that 70% considered video marketing to be their most effective tool, and this figure went up to 74% for specifically B2C marketers. Video is difficult to do right, so having the skills to produce good quality video is highly in demand. (Talent Hub Resourcing, 2016)


Skills like video design combined with the surge of online work management solutions, collaborative work platforms, and content management are fueling the international workforce. The bottom line is if the next generation wants to keep pace in their industry and excel in employment, they will, undoubtedly, be expected to have a certain degree of digital capability. Simply because digital tools and skills have a proven ability to generate revenue, and companies want to harness that power and stay competitive. (Digital Marketing Institute,2017)


Recently, General Electric invested more than $1 billion to create a new market around the Industrial Internet.  Under the new Chief Digital Officer, Bill Ruh, the company hired thousands of user experience experts and digital media staff. (Forbes,2018)





We all know that the way we do our jobs has changed. But the rate of change is
accelerating faster than ever before. Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a key role in revolutionizing many industries in the near future. A survey by Pew Research Internet finds Americans are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans.



It is important to understand that AI will replace tasks and not jobs. Employees with skills in communication, interpretation, design, and synthetic thinking will provide the balance for this ever-changing world.


There are seemingly endless career possibilities for people with digital media skills. People with digital media skills are in high demand. There is a huge variety of career available to people with digital media skills.



  • Media planner

  • Multimedia specialist

  • Program researcher, broadcasting/film/video

  • Public relations officer

  • Runner, broadcasting/film/video

  • Social media manager

  • Television/film/video producer

  • Web content manager

Hybrid Opportunities

  • Advertising account executive

  • Broadcast journalist

  • Editorial assistant

  • Event manager

  • Film director

  • Information officer

  • Magazine journalist

  • Market researcher

  • UX designer

  • Writer


Employers included

  • Communications Agencies

  • Civil Service

  • Higher education institutions, such as colleges and universities

  • Local government

  • Marketing organizations

  • Media companies

  • Newspaper industry

  • PR consultancies

  • Publishing companies

  • TV and radio companies.

  • Retail

  • IT companies

  • Service Industry

  • Nonprofit Agencies







Pew/Internet: Pew Internet & American Life Project. (2006). Choice Reviews Online, 44(01). doi:10.5860/choice.44-0384


CONVERGE, The Center of Digital Education, Winter 2017.

Customer Centricity. (2016). doi:10.4135/9781473981515


The 10 most in-demand digital marketing skills. (2016, May 03). Retrieved from https://www.talenthubresourcing.com/news/10-demand-digital-marketing-skills

Gaskin. (2018, December 17). The Top 5 Highest Paying Jobs in Digital Marketing. Retrieved from https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/en-us/blog/2016-2-2-the-top-5-highest-paying-jobs-in-digital-marketing


High, P. (2018, July 23). The CEO Of GE Digital On What Is Next For The Industrial Icon. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2018/07/23/the-ceo-of-ge-digital-on-what-is-next-for-the-industrial-icon/#120735293fdb


21st Century Skills: How can you prepare students for the new Global Economy?



NEA National Education Association



An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs” Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society



Companies want avid lifelong learners



Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century

Henry Jenkins, Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology




Today’s students must be prepared to thrive in a constantly evolving technological landscape.

The ISTE Standards for Students are designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process



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