Here’s how we can meet the global need for digital skills development

More than ever, COVID-19 has thrown the need for digital skills and capacities into stark relief around the world. The newly published Digital Skills Insights 2020 report is a carefully curated collection of the best strategies to strengthen the capacities and skills needed to help everyone benefit fully from digital transformation, no matter where they live and no matter what their level of digital skill development. Below is my foreword to this timely new edition of the report.

In the wake of the global pandemic, the importance of digital skills has never been so evident, nor so urgent. As those lucky enough to enjoy fast connectivity took refuge from the global health emergency by moving to a virtual environment to support economic continuity, education and interpersonal contact, those lacking access to digital networks and skills have been left even further behind.

As the world struggles to fashion a ‘new normal’ for the post-pandemic era, it is more apparent than ever that the ability to leverage digital technologies will be vital to the future resilience and prosperity of nations, communities and individuals. This timely new edition of Digital Skills Insights focuses on pertinent topics related to this pressing global need for digital capacity building and skills development.

Now in its fourth year, Digital Skill Insights aims to provide new perspectives and enhance knowledge among the ITU stakeholder community on issues impacting digital learning and skills development, featuring eight new articles from leading international experts, divided into two broad areas. The first set provides a broad overview of the discussion on digital skills demand and supply, new skills requirements in emerging job markets, and challenges related to future digital skills requirements. Issues covered include digital skills shortages in global labour markets, and how skills needs evolve in line with new technologies. They emphasize the need for accurate forecasts of digital skills requirements, and flexible digital skills acquisition approaches.

The second set of articles focuses on digital skills and the digital gender divide. These pieces discuss pertinent interlinkages between digitization, jobs, gender and digital skills development, highlighting the importance of collaborative efforts in addressing digital skills requirements and raising thought-provoking questions about the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Questions raised include whether there is enough data to determine if variations in digital skills gender gaps are affected by increasing diversification of jobs in the IT sector, and why do women continue to be left behind in terms of direct participation in the digital economy, despite accelerating connectivity and access to mobile devices.

I hope this publication will stimulate and contribute to the important ongoing discussions among ITU’s membership, including policymakers, academics and stakeholders involved in the digital skills ecosystem, on the best strategies to rapidly strengthen the capacities and skills required to profit fully from the benefits of digital transformation.

Learn more and get the full publication free of charge here.

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