Digital Skill Swap

A place to teach and learn new digital skills Posted 11 June 2015

Digital Skill Swap logo

Today I’m launching Digital Skill Swap, an initiative for people with digital skills. The concept is simple: you have digital skills and you want to learn more, others have complementary skills and want to learn more, now you meet up and teach each other.

Android and iOS developers are not expected to sit together and gaze lovingly into each others’ eyes…but you get the basic idea.

Any large business will likely have a similar framework, often called cross-training, but until now no framework exists to do this independently and across the Channel Islands.

To get started right now, visit digitalskillswap.com and sign up. I’ll provide periodic email summaries of which skills are offered, the best venues, and who to contact. The decision of who, when, and where to meet is left to the users but I will organise some group meet-ups if they are useful.

An Overview

There exist several local initiatives for mentoring and teaching people new digital skills. For example, Techtribes have a free ‘Mentors in Jersey’ list (which I’m on) but Digital Skill Swap is to be more of a bartering system. To participate, you must possess digital skills and be proficient enough to teach them to others.

You don’t need to be the world’s leading expert on a subject to participate - just know enough to respect the other person’s time and help them gain knowledge. It works best if you keep it simple at first, so for example you might teach someone how to set up a VPN if they teach you how to script automatic website backups. Or programmers could give each other basic “An intro to…” lessons to augment each others’ different skill sets.

The net result will be a more highly skilled workforce in the Channel Islands, which can only be a good thing for digital sector. Jersey has a much smaller than average digital sector so we need to move and catch up quickly. We cannot compete head-on with more established locations so we must use our strengths, such as our smaller and better connected digital community.

Venn diagram of skill swap

Obligatory Comic Sans MS font - that's right.

A Perspective

I was shocked to hear recently that Jersey’s digital sector is only about 1.5% of our economy, compared to about 8% GDP for G-20 countries. “Who are we on par with then, North Korea?” was my first reaction. I can’t find reliable figures for North Korea but it is entirely possible they are way ahead of us.

Perhaps you have seen the recent surveys from the Population Office which ask which sector you work in. Digital is not listed as a category. At first I thought it was an oversight but I’m starting to realise we look like a rounding error from their perspective, and I plan to do my part to change this.

A Difference

You may have attended ‘Digital’ events here in Jersey and wondered about the unusually low ratio of IT workers to PR people, marketers, and random men in suits taking selfies. Hardly any women attend. This is not very exciting for geeks to put it mildly. Digital Skill Swap aims to serve a different demographic where bright pink hair and a Modern Toss Swearing Jacket or scruffy black t-shirt would not look out of place.

I did a ‘soft launch’ of this by mentioning it on discuss.gg and the techtribes.je Slack chat and people have begun signing up already, so the time has come to promote this more publicly and encourage wider participation.

Sign up now and let’s get this started!