More than half of
people in the European Union had at least basic overall digital skills in 2021,
according to recent data from the Statistical Office of the European Union –
Eurostat. The share of people with digital skills was highest in the Netherlands,
Finland and Ireland, while the lowest percentage was recorded in Romania,
Bulgaria and Poland.
Although quite a few articles on this topic have been published on the Slovenec website under the Računalniške osnove (Computer Basics) section, this article will explain which skills fall under basic digital literacy and where Slovenia ranks among European countries.
What does digital literacy
In general, digital
literacy has many common principles with other areas that use different
adjectives (general, mathematical, financial, etc.) in front of the same word –
literacy – to define specific knowledge or competencies. The term digital
literacy has become increasingly popular in educational and higher education
environments. It is used in international and national standards, based
primarily on the concepts of computer, information and visual literacy.
Digital literacy, according to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, refers to an individual’s ability to find, evaluate, and clearly communicate information through typing and other media on various digital platforms. It is assessed by an individual’s grammar, composition, typing skills and ability to produce text, images, audio and designs using technology.
The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills”. Although digital literacy initially focused on computers (computer literacy), its field has expanded further with the occurrence and development of smartphones.
“Digital literacy is everywhere, and everyone possesses some level of it,” says Karin Cross-Smith, resident of Heretto, a software company. As an example of digital literacy, she cites a child who picks up a smartphone for the first time and starts using it intuitively, or when a user watches a video tutorial to teach himself to use a new app right away. “It’s the ability to navigate an environment that’s fully integrated with diverse technologies.”
What skills fall under the
umbrella term digital literacy?
Digital literacy is usually defined as a “soft skill“, as it is not so much about using one particular technology but rather the ability to learn and adapt to technology. According to Joaquim Miro, partner and marketing director (CMO) at Hoppin’ World, digital literacy involves four major pillars.
Miro explains these
four pillars as the abilities to; stay up to date with existing technologies,
properly communicate in an online environment, manage your ideas in an online
environment, and manage teams leveraging technology. Within these abilities is
otherwise knowledge of several different technologies. For example, communication
in an online environment could involve video conferencing platforms, using
email, installing various applications on mobile phones, etc.
refers to someone’s ability to use IT [information technology] and digital
technology to find, evaluate, create and communicate information,” says Matt
Dunne, hiring manager at HealingHolidays. “If an applicant claims to have
digital literacy skills, I’d expect them to be able to conduct thorough online
research, which they can then analyse and evaluate. I would also expect them to
be capable of creating a range of different digital documents and of using
digital communication systems.”
An understanding of
web browsers, search engines and email is an expectation in digital literacy —
not a perk, Dunne points out. “These are now considered pretty basic skills.
While it isn’t a huge advantage to have them, it’s a big disadvantage to not
have them.” According to the website of American University Rasmussen, employers expect at least five skills
in the field of digital literacy from their future employees, which are not
necessarily related to technology: independent research, familiarity with terms
and common platforms, collaboration, adapting to new technologies and
sufficient understanding of technologies you use to teach others.
Skills that help in
finding a job
“A lot of digital
literacy is figuring out how to use technologies that you’ve never seen or only
have a cursory knowledge of,” says Cross-Smith. “The ability to independently
research and problem-solve speaks volumes of a candidate’s knack for
adapting to dynamic technical landscapes—an incredibly valuable asset.”
Knowledge of various
terms such as Wi-Fi may not
be considered special knowledge, but it barely existed as a concept thirty
years ago. Today, there are many terms known to the average internet user and
even more terms that this user could understand by simply searching and
researching. Experience with essential office software, such as Microsoft
Office, is also considered part of digital literacy.
with others might not seem like a starkly digital skill, but you’re part of
a team,” Cross-Smith points out, adding: “When that whole team is part of an
ecosystem that uses a bouquet of different technologies, being able to marry
collaboration and independent problem-solving makes true digital literacy a
well-rounded professional characteristic.”
According to Miro, one
of the most critical aspects of digital literacy is the ability to adapt very
quickly to new technology. “You need to keep an open mind to innovation
whenever it’s implemented within your office. This is the most important skill
as it allows for the workplace to remain agile and up to date with the latest
progress across each company’s respective industry.”
Teaching or explaining
technologies you use can be crucial
in several different ways. Maybe you will need to teach a new recruit how to
use the technical tools they’ll need daily, Cross-Smith explained on the
rasmusse.edu website. “Digital literacy is both understanding and imparting
knowledge on a continual basis. It’s important because you’ll be on both the
learning end and the teaching end of technologies for the rest of your career.”
Apparently, only half of
Slovenes are digitally literate…
Do you know how to
read news websites, send an instant message, use word processing software, or
manage access to your personal data? These are some of the basic digital skills
that the European Union measures in its 27 Member States.
According to data from the Statistical Office of the European Union – Eurostat, in 2021, more than half of people (54%) aged 16 to 74 in the EU had “at least basic overall digital skills“. This means that they can perform at least one activity related to each of the following five areas: information and data literacy skills, communication and collaboration skills, digital content creation skills, safety skills and problem-solving skills.
As already mentioned,
the Netherlands and Finland achieved the highest results in basic general
digital skills with 79%, followed by Ireland with 70%. Romania (28%), Bulgaria
(31%) and Poland (43%) have the lowest share of basic overall digital skills.
Slovenia shares 15th place with Cyprus at 50%, but it is clearly a
more digitally literate country than Germany or Italy, which are behind us.
Eurostat states that digital skills are some of the key performance indicators in the context of the Digital Decade, which sets out the EU’s vision for digital transformation. Among the targets is that at least 80% of EU citizens aged 16-74 years old have at least basic digital skills by 2030.
The World Economic Forum lists on its website basic digital skills, some of which we have already presented: finding information online about goods or services or reading online newspapers, sending and receiving emails and using social media, using word processing or spreadsheet software, and editing photos, video or audio files, changing internet browser and personal security settings, selling online, internet banking and installing software or apps.
Author: Rok Žontar
Keywords: digital literacy, skills, statistics,
Digital Decade, European Commission.
article is part of joint project of the Wilfried Martens Centre for European
Studies and the Anton Korošec Institute (INAK) Following the path of
digitalization in Slovenia and Europe. This project receives funding from the
information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do
not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union
institutions/Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies/ Anton Korošec
Institute. Organizations mentioned above assume no responsibility for facts or
opinions expressed in this article or any subsequent use of the information