Digital Inequality

research on skills, uses, and outcomes of Internet technology

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Social Context of Digital Inequality
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In the Media

- Every year, the Dutch economy loses €19.3 billion in productivity due to low quality ICT networks or a lack of relevant skills in working with them. Older employees and those trained in special workshops are most efficient, a research by the University of Twente shows.

 

The University of Twente (UoT) published "CTRL ALT DELETE", a report indicating that the Dutch economy loses €19.3 billion in productivity on a yearly basis due to low quality ICT networks or a lack of relevant skills in working with them. "For the Netherlands this is particularly harmful as the country's productivity growth was mostly relying on advances in ICT in the past," it says in the analysis.

Insufficient skills, unreliable infrastructures

In real working time this is equivalent to 7,6% or 27 minutes and 37 seconds that are lost per employee every day on average.  Examples cited as problematic are slowly operating computers, unavailable or malfunctioning servers and an overall inefficient use of computer and communication systems.

Given the current fragile state of the Dutch economy, this insight is especially worrisome. In the last quarter of 2011, the local economy shrank by 0.7%. Last February, first estimates state that this trend worsened by another 1,4%. Digital Agenda EU Commissioner, Neelie Kroes, recognized this issue as well and spread the report via social media on Twitter.

Age and training of employees have positive effect

The research also had a closer look at what type of people lose out the most on ICT skills. Here, a clear trend can be seen for employees with a lower educational background (productivity loss up to 10%). By contrast, the UoT researchers find that people in the oldest age category (52-67) fare the best. This might have to do with the phenomenon that older employees are more inclined to request help from the company's IT help desk.

The report urges businesses to respond by investing more into functioning ICT infrastructures and employee trainings. Only 22% of the firms participating in the research had schooled their employees in ICT workshops over the last 3 years. Meanwhile, these measures seemed particularly effective given that participants showed an average time gain of 33 minutes per day.