The role of digital skills in youth employment

Credits: Youth Impact

As the past 2 years of COVID-19 pandemic has shown us — computer skills are essential in the modern world. Our daily activities, such as education, work, shopping or even going to the cinema or theatre etc. had to move to a remote level.

So what are digital skills? According to UNESCO digital skills are a range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information. They give people access to create and share digital content, communicate and collaborate, and solve problems for effective and creative self-fulfilment in life, learning, work, and social activities at large. Digitals skills are also included in the European Commission’s Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning, which identifies eight key competences among knowledge, employability, social inclusion, active citizenship, healthy and sustainable lifestyle . According to the 2017 European Digital Skills Survey more than 90% of jobs require digital skills which goes far beyond traditional office work.

Schools play an important role in youth’s digital skills education. COVID crisis provided opportunities for digitalisation of education, which was also a big challenge for teachers, students and their parents. Lack of digital skills affected not only the quality of remote education, but also communication between school and students, as well as access to information and computer platforms.

According to the European Commission women in Poland, especially those aged 55+ are the group most exposed to lack of digital competences, resulting in exclusion from access to the ICT services sector (Information and Communication Technologies). In the 25–54 and 55+ age groups, both women and men in Poland use the Internet much less frequently than women and men from the EU. These are worrying numbers, as the scale of schools and universities closure all around the globe has revealed the uneven distribution of the digital skills and technological devices needed to make remote education possible; both regionally, as in less urbanized areas, the internet may not be fast enough to allow video classes and people may share one laptop for whole family, as well as generationally, as parents may lack ICT skills to help their children with online school, teachers may lack digital skills which would allow them to organize interesting online classes, and youth which may be fluent in using social media, may be lacking skills like information literacy online.

The generation gap of digital competences has shown us that there are still a lot of challenges for the governments to work on many levels – one of them being making sure that all citizens have equal access to effective digital skills education.

If you’re interested in assessing your digital skills, there is a Digital Competence Framework for Citizens, also known by its acronym DigComp, that was first published in 2013 by the European Commission. Its aim was to create a tool to improve citizens’ digital competences, help policy makers formulate policies, and plan education and training initiatives to improve digital competences. DigComp also provides a common language to identify and describe key areas of digital skills and identifies key components of digital competence in 5 areas, which are information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, safety and problem solving. You can use the Self Assessment Tool, available online both in Polish and English, created in line with DigComp Framework. It gives you the possibility to get a personalised radar chart of your strengths and weaknesses, recommendations on strengthening your digitals skills as well as allows you to compare with other students.

Written by FRDL


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