Skill-Based Certifications Are The Key to Employment For The Next Generation
There has arguably never been a more interesting time for media. Mobile technology has given a voice to the ‘citizen journalist’, while the rise in digital platforms, social media and micro-blogging sites has given anyone with an opinion and internet access the opportunity to share news, trends and opinions.
Yet despite the vast and expanding media landscape, it is a difficult industry to break into. Research conducted by Adobe into its Adobe Certified Associates (ACA) program reveals that 74 percent of current and aspiring digital media professionals perceive the field of digital media to be more competitive than it was five years ago, and that 56 percent of current and aspiring digital media professionals are concerned about how to differentiate themselves when applying for a job.
So, how can students of media, design, and communications related fields make themselves more marketable?
In short, being proficient at digital storytelling is vital. With the evolving nature of media consumption, communication professionals, media specialists and journalists must learn how to align their skills with their employers’ business models so they can help their organizations achieve their goals. The traditional mediums – print, television and radio – are competing with smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, the internet and podcasts for reader attention and advertising spend, so understanding how to tell a compelling story on these channels is as crucial for media professionals as knowing AP style. 54 percent of survey participants agree that a lack of digital media experience is a barrier to enter digital media professions, and 56 percent feel that a demonstrated ability to work across multiple devices and programs helps their resume stand out.
The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism agrees with the 61 percent of respondents that believe being able to demonstrate knowledge of digital design tools will help set them apart from their peers. Two-thirds (62 percent) of current and aspiring digital media employees agreed that certifications help candidates prove their digital media skills to prospective employers, and they view knowledge of design tools as the top way to help their resumes stand out.
ACA holders do not just see a boost in their resumes and tangible skill sets, but also their confidence and self-esteem. In fact, 78 percent of survey respondents said that confidence is the most important quality for securing your first job in the digital media industry, and ACA holders are nearly twice as likely as non-ACA holders to feel ahead of the curve. They are also more likely to be proactive in setting themselves apart by keeping up to date with digital tools compared to non-ACA holders via a variety of activities which include watching online tutorials compared (59 percent vs. 51 percent), being actively engaged in online networks and activities (47 percent vs. 36 percent), and working with a mentor or teacher (45 percent vs. 24 percent).
ACA holders also see the digital certification program as a means of making up for lost time or to fill a void they feel is missing in their education, which is a common issue for mature students who went to high school before the digital media explosion. Of the people surveyed, 67 percent wish their high school had offered courses or programs by reputable organizations to help them learn digital media tools, and 71 percent of aspiring digital media professionals who are not ACA holders feel that they’d be further along in their careers (i.e. employed in a job they want!) if they had learnt digital media skills in a formal education setting. “I could have started a portfolio and developed skills early on. I would have had more confidence entering college,” said a current professional surveyed for this study.
 Survey administered by Edelman Intelligence, 2016. Adobe asked current and aspiring digital media professionals, including 504 Adobe Certified Associates and 562 non-ACA holders, ages 18 to 29 in the United States, Mexico and South Korea about the essentials for launching a successful digital media career.