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In today’s economy, workers need foundational digital skills and knowledge to adapt and respond to new technology, systems, tools, and processes. The pandemic has exacerbated this in recent months, as businesses adapt to changing ways of reaching customers, often resulting in new operating procedures and accelerating automation and digitization
In its 2019 report Digital Blindspot: How Digital Literacy Can Create a More Resilient Workforce , the Rework America Business Network created a framework to categorize the skills workers need--distinguishing between employability digital skills like problem solving with technology that increase the marginal likelihood of employment and a broader set of foundational skills.
Employability digital skills are the “basic set of capabilities workers need in order to use devices, data, and computing proficiently, safely, and ethically to perform their job’s core activities in the increasingly digitized future of work.” This distinction enables workers to focus on building work-relevant digital skills, prioritizing time and resources for the skills that will help lead to employment.
Low-income, people of color, and rural communities have significantly less access to the broadband services, devices, and connectivity. Expanding access to broadband is essential to ensure these communities can participate in opportunities for digital skills building and other online learning.
As the Digital Blindspot report explains, “Technology’s transformation of nearly every facet of our lives presents both profound opportunities and risks. Finding and applying for jobs, accessing medical records, or even reserving a picnic table at a park or answering a jury duty questionnaire now requires access to an internet-enabled device. Our reliance on technology to perform even mundane tasks risks exacerbating gaps between technology haves and have-nots.”
“The ubiquity of email, word processing, and sector-specific machines or software platforms means the penalty for lacking digital fluency is rapidly growing, creating barriers for those who lack the technology skills or confidence to use digital tools effectively.”
The Digital Blindspot report outlines five dimensions of digital skills that constitute baseline expectations for employability digital literacy.
Baseline for Employability Digital Literacy Skills
Additional Employability Skills
Note: “While the primary five areas above are relatively stable across functions, the final two areas of employability digital skills— occupation-specific tools and analytics and data manipulation—have a significant degree of variability and encompass a wide range of technical skills.”
Examples of free resources to build vital digital skills: