The future of Digital Skills
There is currently a great deal of debate over what digital skills are needed for future jobs.
A new report written by Erika Kispeter about the current and future demand for digital skills at work has just been published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – “What digital skills do workers need to succeed in the workforce in the next ten years”.
Although much of the relevant literature discusses ‘digital skills’, this term is used as a shorthand to mean, among others skills, knowledge, behaviours, attitudes, competencies, capabilities, and character traits. Current frameworks for digital skills include a handful of key areas of skills and competencies, namely Information and data literacy, Digital communication and collaboration, Digital content creation, Digital safety, Digital identity and Awareness of digital rights at different levels of proficiency. Digital skills also include non-technical, so called ‘21st century skills’, which can be grouped under a cognitive, intrapersonal and interpersonal domain.
While there is a trend to create comprehensive frameworks for digital skills, these attempts to give a general definition of ‘digital skills’ has been criticised. There is a call for more context-specific definitions.
The review has found that it is difficult to establish the boundary between essential and more specialised digital skills for the general workforce and identify a list of digital skills beyond the essential level. Descriptions of digital competence as a ‘T-shaped skill set’, in which individuals possess in depth knowledge in one area and good knowledge across many other areas may be useful here.
The future demand for general digital skills points at 21st century skills, especially interpersonal skills and cognitive competencies and learning strategies. It is argued that occupations where workers use digital skills creatively and to solve problems are likely to grow, while occupation where digital skills are used for routine tasks are likely to decline.
The drivers of change are suggested to be the effect of automation on future occupations, but there is much debate as to whether jobs will be fully automated or whether there will be a major change in task composition.
the report can be downloaded from the UK Government publications website.