Digital Inequality

research on skills, uses, and outcomes of Internet technology

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Projects

From digital skills to tangible outcomes
Skils uses outcomes238x194

21st-century Digital Skills
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Social Context of Digital Inequality
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In the Media

Bron: Universiteit Twente

 

Alexander van Deursen of the department of Media, Communication and Organization (MCO) is granted over half a million euro by NWO for his proposal submitted to the ‘21st Century Skills’-call. The main goal of this call is to make the Dutch creative sector an international leader by strengthening human capital among the Dutch workforce. Alexander’s proposed research contributes to this goal by focusing specifically on so-called eSkills (or digital literacy among the labor population), of which the importance is fundamental to the wider human capital challenge.

Gaps in our knowledge of eSkills concern definitions that can be applied, the actual level of the skills identified, and the way eSkills are acquired and developed. Recent work on digital skills has shown that there is much room for improvement among large parts of the general population. While the basic skills required to use technologies are overall sufficient, higher order skills need desperate attention. This also accounts for labor settings where the focus is largely directed to basic technical abilities of which most people believe they have sufficient levels. The unwelcome result is that organizations and managers do very little to improve their employees’ eSkills. The large majority of workers, for example, never participated in ICT-training, although research reveals that much time is lost due to problems caused by eSkill insufficiencies.

In the granted project, Alexander elaborates on prior findings by taking a staged multi-method approach in which the concept of eSkills is clarified, the level among workers in the creative sector is tested, the impact of the individual labor situation on eSkills is determined, the way eSkills are learned by workers is investigated, and policy recommendations are defined, implemented, and evaluated. Thus, the project aims at creating a supporting environment for workers by investigating what workers require which skills, what eSkill education and training should focus on, what situational factors affect the level of eSkills (e.g., type of work, role of co-workers or informal relations, courses), and what the provided recommendations might actually result in. Overall, the project aims at offering both scientific and practical independent data not only to draw public attention to the importance of eSkills and to inform and motivate public and private eSkill stakeholders, but also by providing directly applicable recommendations that will contribute to a healthy future labor market.


Together with a consortium consisting of prof dr Jan van Dijk, prof dr Jos de Haan (EUR) and several organizations, policy directions will be explored to make eSkills an essential part of achieving the main goals set out by the Human Capital Agenda.