Digital Inequality

research on skills, uses, and outcomes of Internet technology

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From digital skills to tangible outcomes
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21st-century Digital Skills
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Social Context of Digital Inequality
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In the Media

The publication of a new report recently showed that up to 10% of an employees’ day can be spent trying to resolve technology problems.

Recent research published by the University of Twente in the Netherlands showed that, on average, workers in the Netherlands spend almost 8% of their day trying to resolve issues relating to the use of technology in the workplace – with this figure rising to 10% for lower-skilled workers.

The findings of the study ‘Ctrl Alt Delete: Lost productivity Caused by IT Problems and Inadequate Digital Skills at Work’ found this cost the Dutch economy up to €19.3 billion a year.

Computers are essential in today’s workplace, and the effective use of technology is vital for economic growth, productivity and innovation, yet this research shows the impact that a lack of ICT skills can have.

In addition to the high figures returned by the research in relation to the loss of productivity, what is equally surprising is that workers and managers seem to be unaware of the problem, and believe their ICT skill levels to be of a sufficiently high standard to perform their job functions effectively – despite the fact that the majority of them reported never having undergone any formal ICT skills development training.

The findings of the University Twente report support the results of a 2010 study from the Alba Business School in Greece, which found that investment in ICT skills training and certification is highly effective, and that it represents a real and immediate return on investment for companies.

ICT-trained employees are more efficient, they work quicker, and make fewer mistakes; and the time that supervisors and other colleagues spend dealing with difficulties is halved where employees have been trained. Companies also benefit by having much more accurate knowledge about the skill levels of employees and can therefore deploy them more effectively.

Employers should identify which applications and systems are causing the greatest losses of time, and implement concrete solutions. In addition, employees must be trained and tested so that their digital skills increase, and the amount of time wasted is reduced.

One of the most popular qualifications that can help individuals improve their skills is the European Computer Driving Licence, or ECDL. Over 2 million people in the UK have registered to study the seven modules that range from basic concepts of IT, through to creating and managing files, spreadsheets, using presentation software and understanding basic IT security issues.

ICT is an acronym that stands for Information Communications Technology. However, apart from explaining an acronym, there is not a universally accepted definition of ICT. Why? Because the concepts, methods and applications involved in ICT are constantly evolving on an almost daily basis. Its difficult to keep up with the changes – they happen so fast.

A good way to think about ICT is to consider all the uses of digital technology that already exist to help individuals, businesses and organisations use information. ICT covers any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit or receive information electronically in a digital form. For example, personal computers, digital television, email, even robots.

ICT skills are not only required for jobs in the IT sector. The demand for them cuts across sectors and job types. ICT skills are increasingly important in sectors such as agriculture, construction, education, and service industries.

In addition to ICT competence, other skills are often required in today’s labor market, including communication skills, teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, decision making, and general social skills. In this environment, low-skilled, long-term unemployed and older workers are more vulnerable to skill obsolescence than are other groups. Moreover, during economic downturns these workers must compete with higher-skilled workers who are suddenly willing to take lower-paid jobs

This is why it’s vital for these groups in Wales in particular to make sure they have these marketable skills.