What skills for tomorrow’s digital world

Ensuring that everyone has the right skills for an increasingly digital and globalised world is essential to create jobs and to spur innovation, productivity and growth.

Several types of skills are needed. Technical and professional skills, including ICT specialist skills for workers who drive innovation, support digital infrastructures and the running of the digital eco-system. General ICT skills for workers and citizens alike to be able to use digital technologies. And ICT complementary “soft” skills, such as leadership, communication and teamwork skills, required for the expanding number of opportunities for ICT-enabled collaborative work (OECD, 2015a; OECD, 2016a; Grundke et al., 2017).

According to OECD, less than 10% of workers, on average in the OECD area, are in jobs that are at risk of being replaced by machines, but 25% are in jobs where a high percentage of tasks (50-70%) could be automated (Arntz et al., 2016). This underlines the need for flexible skills that allow workers to shift to new tasks that are difficult to automate.

The recent OECD report Skills for a Digital World states:

  • Information and communication technologies (ICT) are profoundly changing the skill profile of jobs. Skill development policies need to be overhauled to reduce the risk of increased unemployment and growing inequality.
  • To thrive in the digital economy, ICT skills will not be enough and other complementary skills will be needed, ranging from good literacy and numeracy skills through to the right socio-emotional skills to work collaboratively and flexibly.
  • 56% of the adult population have no ICT skills or have only the skills necessary to fulfil the simplest set of tasks in a technology-rich environment. Young people, however, are much more ICT proficient than older generations.
  • Skills policies should seek to: strengthen initial learning; anticipate and respond better to changing skill needs; increase the use of workers’ skills; and improve incentives for further learning.

We will keep evolving ICDL just as ICT and digital skills keep evolving. We can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring.

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