How to assess the future digital skills of your heritage organisation

Staying up-to-date with the latest technological opportunities is a time consuming but important task. This resource outlines some key areas where knowledge and skills development may be important for your future work. Useful resources and sites are also provided to support you in keeping up-to-date.

This resource is available in English and Welsh
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Image courtesy of English Heritage ©

How to assess the future digital skills of your heritage organisation

1. The impact of digital technologies

Digital technologies are transforming society. Think about how often you use technologies to navigate from one place to another, to order takeaway or to communicate with friends and family. The smartphone in your pocket is more than 1,000 times more powerful than the CRAY1 supercomputer of the 1980s. Digital skills are now a vital part of the future of your heritage organisation as digital engagement becomes the norm. Despite this shift, ensuring staff and volunteers have the necessary digital skills remains a challenge for many organisations. The result is that many people lack the digital skills for work – this is known as the digital divide. According to a new report published by FutureDotNow:

over 17 million people in the UK lack essential digital skills for work, while less than a quarter (23%) of employees reported having received any digital skills training from their employer.

Quote by FutureDotNow

This means that your heritage organisation will need to work to narrow the digital divide. You need to make sure your staff training is inclusive, and addresses the needs of your organisation, stakeholders and audiences.

Our expert, Michael Turnpenny, Head of Museum Development Yorkshire, takes you through how to identify your organisation’s current and future digital skills needs.


2. The digital skills your heritage organisation needs now

Before you think about the digital skills your heritage organisation will need in the future, think about those it has or needs now. To know what these skills are, you first need to assess your organisation’s digital competency. This will help you to identify areas for further development. There are a number of ways in which you can map your organisation’s digital competencies including DigComp’s (The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens) self-assessment tool. The Digital Culture Compass also has tools to assess your current situation and future plans.

You also need to think about the digital skills your heritage organisation needs. What does your organisation want to achieve? What skills does your organisation require to do this?

Possible skills needed:

  • Programming, web and app development – development of these skills will allow your organisation to create and maintain your own website, apps and interactive experiences. There are many resources for learning these skills online. One example is this Beginner’s roadmap video by CoderCoder which explains the basic skills you need to start web development.
  • Digital design and data visualisation
  • Digital project management – skills in digital project management will allow your team to work more efficiently and flexibly. With more staff members working remotely or in hybrid situations, being able to track and manage the progress of projects digitally will be increasingly important.
  • Digital marketing – skills in digital marketing can help your organisation reach out to new audiences and share your work or collections more widely.
  • Multi-platform UX design – user experience (UX) design is how a user experiences or interacts with a product, system or service. Your heritage organisation will need to think about how you want your users to experience your digital services. Careers Foundry offers a UX Design for Beginners Course.
  • Data science and data analytics – data skills will allow your team to analyse and gain great insights into the data available in your organisation and give directions for further development.
  • Network and information security – these skills are essential for keeping your organisation’s data and accounts safe.
  • Essential digital literacy – basic skills are sometimes forgotten in the rush to use the latest technology, but it is important to ensure all your staff and volunteers have at least basic digital literacy. This can be as simple as training them to be able to use email and search the internet.
  • Digital collaboration tools – skills in collaboration tools such as Microsoft Sharepoint/Teams or Google Workplace are very useful for efficient collaboration in everyday work tasks such as sharing documents and holding meetings.

Equipping your staff and volunteers with digital skills can be done on a budget and in some cases for no cost at all. Focus on the specific skills that your organisation requires. You can often find free training resources online which can form a solid foundation for future skills development.


3. The digital skills your heritage organisation will need in the future

Your organisation also needs to think about the digital skills you will need in the future. There are different ways to approach this. You could recruit new staff who specialise in digital transformation to continue to assess and update your organisation’s approach to digital. If this is not practical, dedicate a portion of your staff time to researching new technologies and digital platforms when they are released or updated. You will also want to look ahead to future projects and build into the project planning scope for assessing what digital skills these projects require.

The Digital Competence Wheel, an online resource which provides an overview of digital skills and offers tools to improve them. You can sign up for a 14-day trial.

The Digital Competence Wheel, an online interactive tool that maps digital competencies
The Digital Competence Wheel, an online interactive tool that maps digital competencies


4. Take away points

  • Digital skills are vital for the future of heritage organisations
  • Mapping your organisation’s digital competencies will help you to identify areas for development and growth
  • Equipping your heritage organisation with the latest digital skills can be done on a budget or even at no additional cost.

More help here

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How to improve the digital skills of your volunteers

The move towards digital has opened up many great opportunities for small to medium-sized heritage organisations to make a big impact, but also presents some challenges. Many heritage organisations rely on volunteers to operate and the digital skills of a volunteer team may be limited. This resource by Dig Yourself provides guidance on how to identify the digital training needs of your volunteers and how get started with digital upskilling with limited resources.

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Identifying and prioritising your digital training requirements

After conducting a digital skills audit, the next step is to identify what training your team needs. This resource guides you through the process and provides a scoring system to help prioritise the most valuable skills.


Browse related resources by smart tags:

Skills Skills gap Staff Training Volunteers
Published: 2022
Resource type: Articles

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "How to assess the future digital skills of your heritage organisation (2022) by Michael Turnpenny supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0


More help here

Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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