TopicsEducation and skills

Skills for a digital world

Higher proficiency in solving problems using digital devices is associated with higher rates of participation in the labour force. More frequent use of ICT is associated with higher wages, and workers with no experience in using ICT suffer a wage penalty.

Ensuring that everyone has the right skills for an increasingly digital and globalised world is essential to promote inclusive labour markets and to spur innovation, productivity and growth. This will require a combination of policies.


Which skills for the digital era?

Which skills for the digital era? Returns to skills analysis

This paper looks at the extent to which different types of skills are rewarded as industries go digital. It indicates that digital-intensive industries especially reward workers having relatively higher levels of self-organisation and advanced numeracy skills. Moreover, for workers in digital-intensive industries, bundles of skills are particularly important. 


Moving between jobs: An analysis of occupation distances and skill needs

As the digital transformation unfolds, workers may need to be increasingly flexible in order to adapt to new or different tasks. They may also need to be more mobile across occupations. This paper sheds light on the amount and type of training needed to facilitate job-to-job transitions.

Educating 21st century children

New technologies help children to learn, socialise and unwind, and older, better-educated parents are increasingly playing an active role in their children's education. At the same time, we are more connected than ever before, and many children have access to tablets and smartphones before they learn to walk and talk.

In addition to limitless online opportunities, the omnipresent nature of the digital world brings new risks, like cyber-bullying, that follow children from the schoolyard into their homes. Educating 21st Century Children: Emotional Well-being in the Digital Age examines modern childhood, looking specifically at the intersection between emotional well-being and new technologies. It explores how parenting and friendships have changed in the digital age. It examines children as digital citizens, and how best to take advantage of online opportunities while minimising the risks. The report ends with a look at how to foster digital literacy and resilience, highlighting the role of partnerships, policy and protection.

Computers and the future of skill demand

Computer scientists are working on reproducing all human skills using artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics. Unsurprisingly then, many people worry that these advances will dramatically change work skills in the years ahead and perhaps leave many workers unemployable.

Computers and the Future of Skill Demand develops a new approach to understanding these computer capabilities by using a test based on the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) to compare computers with human workers. The test assesses three skills that are widely used at work and are an important focus of education: literacy, numeracy and problem solving with computers.

Most workers in OECD countries use the three skills every day. However, computers are close to reproducing these skills at the proficiency level of most adults in the workforce. Only 13% of workers now use these skills on a daily basis with a proficiency that is clearly higher than computers.

The findings raise troubling questions about whether most workers will be able to acquire the skills they need as these new computer capabilities are increasingly used over the next few decades. To answer those questions, the report’s approach could be extended across the full range of work skills. We need to know how computers and people compare across all skills to develop successful policies for work and education for the future.

Students, computers and learning

Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection examines differences in access to and use of ICT – what are collectively known as the “digital divide” – that are related to students’ socio-economic status, gender, geographic location, and the school a child attends. It clearly shows that all students first need to be equipped with basic literacy and numeracy skills so that they can participate fully in the hyper-connected, digitised societies of the 21st century.

>> Read more 

>> Infographic

>> See also: Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

Innovating education and educating for innovation

OECD’s Innovation Strategy calls upon all sectors in the economy and society to innovate in order to foster productivity, growth and well-being. Education systems are critically important for innovation through the development of skills that nurture new ideas and technologies. However, whereas digital technologies are profoundly changing the way we work, communicate and enjoy ourselves, the world of education and learning is not yet going through the same technology-driven innovation process as other sectors.


>> Innovating Education and Educating for Innovation: The Power of Digital Technologies and Skills

Financial and digital literacy

Ensuring financial education and consumer protection for all in the digital age 

G20/OECD INFE report on digitalisation, consumer protection and financial literacy

With the unprecedented pace of technological change and the proliferation of digital financial services around the world, the need to strengthen financial and digital literacy is an important component of the international policy agenda. Based on an overview of worldwide trends in the development of digital financial services, this report discusses the implications of the digitalisation of finance for financial education and relevant consumer protection issues. It also explores the challenges and opportunities resulting from today’s digital revolution for consumers, small businesses and particularly disadvantaged groups. It then highlights the need to further enhance consumer protection and financial education frameworks to more effectively target digital finance, and identifies financial literacy initiatives and policy options that can help consumers better manage any potential digital risks and benefits. It illustrates the use of digital tools to deliver financial education, while addressing the role of public, private and other relevant stakeholders in this regard.

>> Full report (pdf)

>> Report highlights (pdf)

>> OECD work on financial education and consumer protection

>> OECD work on consumer policy

Open educational resources

Open educational resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials that make use of tools such as open licensing to permit their free reuse, continuous improvement and repurposing by others for educational purposes. The OER community has grown considerably over the past 10 years and the impact of OER on educational systems has become a pervasive element of educational policy.

Open Educational Resources: A Catalyst for Innovation aims to highlight state of the art developments and practices in OER, but also to demonstrate how OER can be a tool for innovation in teaching and learning.

The report highlights three key potentials of OER:

  • Digital technologies have become ubiquitous in daily life and OER can harness the new possibility afforded by digital technology to address common educational challenges.
  • OER are a catalyst for social innovation, which can facilitate changed forms of interaction between teachers, learners and knowledge.
  • OER have an extended lifecycle beyond their original design and purpose. The process of distribution, adaptation and iteration can improve access to high-quality, context-appropriate educational materials for all.

Further reading

New Skills for the Digital Economy

This report presents new evidence on how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are changing the demand for skills at work. While the use of ICT at work increased in a large majority of countries between 2011 and 2014, a significant number of workers do not seem to have sufficient skills to use these technologies effectively. The diffusion of ICTs is also changing the way work is carried out, increasing the raising the demand for “soft skills” such as communication, self-direction and problem solving. While these findings offer some new and interesting insights, the report discusses various avenues for further analysis.

Skills for a Digital World

This background report for the 2016 OECD Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy provides new evidence on the effects of digital technologies on the demand for skills and discusses key policies for skills development adapted to the digital economy. Workers across an increasing range of occupations need generic and/or advanced ICT skills to use such technologies effectively. More fundamentally, the diffusion of digital technologies is changing how work is done, raising demand for complementary skills such as information processing, self-direction, problem solving and communication. This report discusses measures that can help to ensure that the diffusion of digital technologies is accompanied by the development of the skills needed for their effective use, an increase in the responsiveness of national skills development systems to changes in skills demand and of new learning opportunities created by digital technologies.

Skills and Jobs in the Internet Economy

Both generic and specialised ICT skills are becoming an important requirement for employment across the economy as the Internet becomes more engrained in work processes, but a significant part of the population lacks the basic skills necessary to function in this new environment. This paper examines the impact of the Internet on the labour market in this context. For example, between 7% and 27% of adults have no experience in using computers or lack the most elementary computer skills, such as the ability to use a mouse. In addition, the groups with the least ICT skills tend to be among the demographic groups at the most risk of losing jobs. Data also highlight a potential skills mismatch among those with the strongest ICT skills (youth) and those who actually use them at work (prime age and older adults).