Digital workplace skills in Europe

The European Commission has just published the final report of its ICT for Work: Digital Skills in the Workplace study.

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The study has explored the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the transformation of jobs and skills. The evidence shows that digital technologies are used in all types of jobs as well as in sectors not traditionally related to digitisation e.g. farming, construction etc.

Key findings

  • Use of digital tech in workplaces in the EU
    • 94% of workplaces use broadband technology to access the internet
    • 93% of European workplaces use desktop computers
    • 75% use portable computers and 63% other portable devices
  • Most jobs require basic digital skills
    • Basic digital skills include communication via email or social media, the ability to create and edit documents, search for information etc.
    • 98% of workplaces require managers and 90% require professionals (e.g. engineers, teachers, clerical workers etc.) to have at least basic digital skills
    • 80% of workplaces require basic digital skills for sales workers
    • 50% of workplaces require building workers to have basic digital skills
  • Over the last five years, investments in ICT to improve efficiency or business volume have increased
    • These investments are more frequent in sectors with traditionally low levels of digital intensity (agriculture, manufacturing or construction)
  • 38% of workplaces report that the lack of digital skills has an impact on their performance
    • Loss of productivity (46%) and decrease in the number of customers (43%) are the main negative impacts
  • 15% of workplaces report employees lack digital skills
    • Digital skills gaps are more likely to be found in high- and medium skilled than in low-skilled jobs
  • 88% of workplaces have not taken any action to tackle the lack of digital skills of their employees
    • Training is the most common action undertaken. High costs seem to be the main barrier to tackling skills gaps

Finally, the report shares policy recommendations that could help transform the labour market.

Recommendations

  1. Raise awareness on digital technologies and the need for digital skills to support and improve business performance, productivity and internal organisation
  2. Promote access to digital technologies, particularly for micro and small sized companies. Loans, grants and other mechanisms should be used to enhance and support access to digital technologies
  3. Expand the availability of digital skills through the education and training system. Programmes at all levels and sectors of education should be updated and digital skills should be part of the core competences required at every level
  4. Promote access to training to employers through their professional or sectoral organisations and associations, or through government channel.
  5. Build multi-stakeholder partnerships and agree on a digital skills strategy
  6. Consider diversity and avoid the ‘one-size fits all’ approach in the strategy
  7. Include digital skills in a wider skills strategy 
  8. Provide access to funding for digital technologies and digital skills development
  9. Reduce the digital divide, focusing on the categories of individuals who do not possess digital skills and are consequently at risk of marginalisation not only in the labour market, but also in day-to-day life, which can contribute to social and economic exclusion.

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