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Jamie Lawrence


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“We are bound to see more industries undergoing digital transformation.”


This is an interview with Gori Yahaya, founder of training and education consultancy UpSkill Digital. He has over 10 years of experience consulting and training thousands of SMEs, charities, and business owners across the UK on how to boost their digital skills and harness the power of the internet and tools effectively to drive growth for their business. Gori will be speaking at Learning Live on the importance of digital skills in L&D in the future.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: The digital landscape changes rapidly. How do you develop future-proof digital skills training?

Gori Yahaya, Founder, Upskill Digital: As digital skills trainers, our role expands beyond the actual information and insight delivery. We are digitally curious and quick to explore and pick-up trends which we then discuss amongst ourselves to see how to best integrate into our existing training.

Each of us have personal experiences with digital that we bring to our training to bring details to life and help paint the picture for our audience and that’s often latest news or stats in the field, pilot projects with digital hardware or software and so on - we share it all! By all means, working with the likes of Google also puts us in a great place to know what’s hot in digital and what people or businesses are most keen to know - ah, the power of search!

However, as much as we strive to keep an eye on the future and excite our audiences with the latest digital tips, stats and examples, our focus remains ensuring that basic digital skills are covered in a way that is accessible to everyone - the solid foundation for building more and more with time. For instance, no point in introducing or talking about new features in AdWords if basic SEO skills are not covered.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: Tell us about the Digital Garage, how you've made it a success and what has surprised you along the way?

Gori Yahaya, Founder, Upskill Digital: For those who haven’t come across the Digital Garage from Google, this is a free digital skills training initiative aimed at equipping people digital skills they need to grow their businesses or careers. The project has seen thousands of people coming through the pop-up doors, attending masterclasses at events big and small all across the country and also signing up to the online hub where they can learn more about digital and get a certificate from Google.

The Digital Garage has got to be one of the most exciting digital skills projects in the world - and what an honour to have been a part of it right from the start. Its success lies in the reach and phenomenal feedback in over two years of activity, with many of the individuals and businesses we’ve seen through our pop-ups and while on tour becoming great success stories for how digital can elevate a business.

There’s never a dull day at the Garage, especially when on tour… the most surprises must come from people’s reception and reaction to the content, and especially from their follow-up success stories; one of the most memorable ones started in the Leeds Digital Garage pop-up back in 2015. Jonathon Blackburn’s business turned over a month what it turned over in its first year after getting advice from our experts!

We’ve also all been taken aback by the sheer range of businesses that seek digital support, who are passionate about growing their business; from yoga teachers, small wine distributors and Indian cafe owners all the way to creative agencies and industrial SMEs! You name it…

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: What do you think are the top digital skills people need to survive in the digital world of work nowadays?

Gori Yahaya, Founder, Upskill Digital: Always a tricky question given how many there are and how fast things change! I’d probably  start with online safety, which we are very passionate about at the Digital Garage. Knowing the basics of how to protect your hardware and data nowadays has never been more important, both for individuals and businesses.

Search and search engine optimisation remains a top digital skill to master, given the shift towards online experiences for shopping, consuming media, accessing exclusive content. Knowing to search, and how search works, is very important even more so for businesses and advertisers who are turning their budgets towards AdWords. Customers are searching, and the rest just has to follow.

Social media skills are also becoming from top skill to skill by default

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: How has the digital skills landscape changed since you got into the industry?

Gori Yahaya, Founder, Upskill Digital: In the digital world, hardly two days are ever the same so imagine how much I’ve seen shifting in the last 10 years! Most of us weren’t even that much online 10 years ago, especially on social networks. New web and social media platforms have been introduced in this time period and significantly changed the way we interact with our friends, family and brands we know and love.

But ultimately, they all created opportunity for skills development, jobs and advertising for brands. The digital skills landscape has evolved in sync with the products and tools developed in the digital space, hence has become increasingly complex.

Training in digital skills itself has seen a tremendous hype and whilst this would have been set aside for specialist digital or creative companies a few years ago, it’s certainly more of a ‘default’ for start-ups, SMEs, mid-size industrial or corporate.

I would say that whilst social media and website basics will always be popular there is increased demand for skills in cyber security, online privacy, data etc. I think we’re only going to see this become ever more important in years to come.

Jamie Lawrence, Managing Editor, HRZone: How do you think the digital skills landscape will change over the next few years? What new skills do you think will come to the fore?

Gori Yahaya, Founder, Upskill Digital: It’s exciting to try to forecast the future for digital and social and look back in a few years to see how you’ve done!

Skills stem from new technology and tools, so it’s harder to predict but some skills are here to stay in the top and as mentioned before online security, automation and analytics won’t fail to be at the top for the foreseeable future.

I think we are bound to see more industries undergoing digital transformation and more devices making their way into companies of all sizes and shapes and definitely also in the public sector.

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Jamie Lawrence

Managing Editor

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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