Michigan State University

The Blended Digital Professional

Benjamin Hall

“Today, many workers across multiple professions perform calculations far more complex, and millions of people understand and manipulate data using tools and techniques that would confound even the most skillful of 19th century experts…The advanced skills of the past become the foundational skills of the future.”

Burning Glass Technologies was hired by the Business-Higher Education Forum to examine the job market. Pouring over 150 million unique U.S. job postings (from 2017) and roughly 56 million resumes, Burning Glass identified skills that create mobility for employees; “People and institutions that acquire and blend these skills become more powerful, flexible and dynamic.”

According to Burning Glass, the New Foundational Skills for the digital economy include the following:

"Digital Building Blocks"

managing_data_001.png  software_dev.png

programming.png  analyzing_data.png


"Business Enablers"

business_process_001.png  project_management.png

digital_design.png  communicating_data.png

What does the data reveal about employers and jobseekers?

First, there is a "glaring mismatch between what employers say their workers need, and what jobseekers and incumbent workers say they have to offer." According to Burning Glass, "Although all of these skills show up frequently in postings from the digitally intensive areas of the economy, most actually fall outside of the digital economy." Not every person will need skills in digital building blocks, but jobseekers should develop a mix of skills in order to become a "blended digital professional" – One who combines new foundational skills with domain knowledge that is specific to a company, organization, or workforce. 

Final Note: The two fastest growing skill areas – Digital Security and Communicating Data – are listed in only 7% and 2% of resumes, respectively. Even the three most frequently claimed skills – Business Process, Communication, and Critical Thinking – are each claimed by barely a quarter of the workforce.

Markow, W., Hughes, D., & Bundy, A. (2018). The new foundational skills of the digital economy: developing the professionals of the future. Business-Higher Education Forum, Washington, District of Columbia. Retrieved from https://www.bhef.com/publications/new-foundational-skills-digital-econom...

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