What are basic digital skills?

Digital skills are broadly defined as those needed to “use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information,” in UNESCO’s terms.

This covers a huge range and variety of skills, of course. There are different tiers of digital skills. At the bottom, we have what the UK Department for Education (DfE) calls “digital foundation skills”. These are the basic digital skills that will be second nature to Millennials and Generation Z digital natives, though which may have to be learned by older generations.

The World Economic Forum estimated in 2019 that 133 million new roles will be created by 2022 as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms. The most in-demand skills, according to WEF estimates, will be big data analytics, app and web-enabled markets, and the internet of things. Finally, we might note that the coronavirus pandemic has put a further spin on matters. Workers who previously relied on in-person interaction now are compelled to use digital technologies to carry out their day-to-day functions. The pandemic will not last forever, but it is likely that remote working will become a more deeply-ingrained part of everyday working life.

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