I want to be A Chief Awesome Officer…

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference with some fantastic speakers. It was a really great exchange of ideas and views, and in the spectacular setting of the Hand Picked Buxted Hotel to boot.

The thorny issue of skills shortages in the UK, especially digital skills was one hot topic of the day. It was commented upon that students are being taught skills that are already out of date by the time they leave education and the roles they had in mind that informed their study subjects were already redundant.

From my own experience tutoring Digital Apprentices some of the requirements of the assessment framework were a bit old fashioned, however we still were able to contextualize the concepts with real work place examples. Mostly.

So should we be worried that the next generation are coming out of our great educational institutions with already outmoded digital skills?

I am not so sure.

Job functions have always changed, and shifted according to need. My nine year old can’t quite get his head round that there were Milkmen that would deliver actual real live bottles of milk to your front door before you woke up. And not bought from the supermarket in bulk and stuffed in the freezer.

What about the human alarm clocks in the northern mining towns. They would rap on windows at the crack of dawn to make sure the men got to the mines on time. Again they didn’t fully disappear until the mining towns were disaffected by smashing of the trade unions. That’s not that long ago.

The pace and velocity of change now means that job roles, especially in digital, are shifting month by month not decade by decade. Consumer expectation and changes in consumer behaviours is driving much of that.

However digital is still a nascent part of business, vital, but nascent , and as such roles and responsibilities will flux and pivot accordingly. We mustn’t shy away from saying we’re not sure what this role looks like yet, however this is what the function needs to deliver for us as a business.

For me, and from our experience running our own business it’s not about current digital trends that we want to see from our employees. It’s more about adaptability. The love of learning new things, and jumping in feet first, and figuring it out with a commitment to get results. Rather than the ‘right’ skillset for the here and now.

Roles in digital will continue to shift and reshape and it’s absolutely right that they do.

Kevin Green from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation noted yesterday that in the last year the role of Chief Awesome Officer has appeared on LinkedIn. There are now more than 400 people with that job title.

I have no idea what the job does, but I want it!

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