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Key digital skills to develop in your early talent cohort

April 2022

Digital skills aren't just for those in technical roles, and providing development opportunities for your early talent cohort helps to future proof your organisation as well as setting them up for success

Building business relevant capabilities in your early talent population is a critical objective for any development programme. Post pandemic, many organisations have needed to critically evaluate the skills desired for their industry. COVID-19 has shaken up the requirements of every sector and more so now than ever, skills and behaviours must be fit for purpose in a digital age.

If upskilling your people with technical knowhow wasn't a priority before 2020 - it definitely will be now. The World Economic Forum stated that in the next three years, half of all workers will need to be reskilled in order to meet the demands of global innovation.

As an organisation, it is important to carefully decide what technical skills are necessary for your early talent. It's also important to note that this shouldn't be limited to individuals in technical roles, and rather to assess what digital capabilities could be adopted across a spectrum of career pathways.

Here are three of the key digital skills that your early talent development should address to ensure your emerging cohorts are set up for future success.

Regardless of whether your organisation is technology-centric, introducing agile ways of working is a great way to improve performance in your early talent.

Agile project management

As businesses become increasingly complex and demand a wider variety of responsibilities from their people, adopting agile methodologies can be a great way to address this. In particular, introducing these concepts to your emerging talent cohort from the start of their careers can encourage great time management, organisation and communication too.

Regardless of whether your organisation is technology-centric, introducing agile ways of working is a great way to improve performance in your early talent. Due to the nature of the continuous feedback loop within agile, it enables changes and improvements to be made quickly and easily, increasing efficiency. This is of great value to future talent cohorts because it means they can react and thus upskill quickly.

Key areas within Agile that your development interventions should focus on include:

  • Agile methodology - understanding each stage of the process and how to improve work flows using this approach.
  • Stakeholder communication - understanding drivers and motivators, increasing cross functional collaboration and how to become the golden thread in projects.
  • Documentation and tools - increasing efficiencies using platforms for tracking and comms, enabling your Early Talent to document and log progress.
  • Risk mitigation - identifying areas of challenge and creating solutions.

Design and digital marketing

In many organisations, the idea of a portfolio career has been adopted for individual roles - which sees people take on a range of responsibilities that may not be in keeping with their role title, because personal upskilling is now the norm. Indeed, 94% of employers now expect their people to pick new skills up, a 29% increase since the last study three years prior. In particular, brand is becoming increasingly important in a virtual space because visuals help people connect to an organisation. Early talent are often relied on to create these branded decks, reports and marketing material - even without a background in graphic design. Upskilling early talent on the fundamentals of design can increase efficiencies and guarantee that your brand is always presented correctly.

Furthermore, digital marketing literacy can also unlock new ventures for your organisation - and empowering your early talent cohort to champion this can prove incredibly fruitful. Even in non-marketing roles, having an understanding of key processes and terminology will enable your people to spot opportunities to improve your brand's perception and reputation in the wider market.

Enabling your people to level up provides not only them with a diverse set of skills but principally future proofs your organisation.

Data analysis and manipulation

Decisions powered by data will become ever more prevalent - regardless of role or industry. It's vital therefore that your early talent cohort feel confident using a range of platforms in order to interpret, analyse and manipulate information.

In a recent Wiser Academy survey, 73% of graduates stated that they did not have basic Excel skills when they started their role. This is an easy fix, as Excel training is widely available on all learning sites and can be a great piece of pre-boarding training for your cohort. It provides them with training and a nod to your commitment to their upskilling, whilst providing you with the reassurance that they will be able to hit the ground running once in role.

It is useful to regularly check in with your early talent on their Excel proficiency and set them tasks related to data analysis, as like everything, it's a skill that requires consistent practise.  

Once you're assured of this skill, embedding more complex platforms like Tableau and Google Analytics into your development programme can provide an excellent source of digital skills for your organisation. If your graduates roles aren't necessarily data focused, a great way to provide them exposure is to set them longer term group projects separate to their normal responsibilities where they have access to data tools and tasks.


The world of work has changed rapidly over the last two years and digital skills show no sign of slowing down. Finding opportunities for your early talent to upskill and gain exposure to Agile, data analysis, design and digital marketing is no longer a nice-to-have but rather a priority. Enabling your people to level up provides not only them with a diverse set of skills but principally future proofs your organisation - plugging skills gaps and providing new ventures and opportunities through digital.

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