The new normal of work will require employees at all level to up their digital game. Get ready now to take the lead on training.
The COVID pandemic has put technology in the spotlight, as telemedicine visits, video meetings, virtual conferences, and remote work have become the norm. As a result, everyone—even entry-level workers–are now expected to have some digital skills. In health care alone, the number of people impacted by this digital demand is nearly 24 million. However, according to new data, the digital skills gap is wider than you may think; and you need to start planning now to fill it.
One-third of health and social workers lack key digital skills. While 21% have only limited skills, 12% have none at all. These individuals are those who fail to meet one or more of three baseline criteria: 1) prior computer use; 2) willingness to take a computer-based assessment; or 3) the ability to complete four out of six very basic tasks (such as using a mouse or highlighting text on a screen). Nearly half of workers with no digital skills are between the ages of 16 and 44; and 61% are men. The majority of these unskilled workers (80%) have a high school credential or less.
Workers with limited skills can complete simple digital tasks, such as sorting emails into pre-existing folders. Half (50%) of these workers are between the ages of 16 and 44; and they are evenly divided between men and women.
The good news is that 38% have proficient digital abilities and 29% have advanced skills. The majority of these are under age 44, and slightly more are women.
According to the National Skills Coalition (NSC), for the health care sector to survive, “Workers will need to equip themselves with in-demand digital skills – and businesses will need to invest in helping their employees build such skills.” Congress can help, NSC suggests, by investing in upskilling for workers and job seekers, as well as supporting industry-led training programs.
One promising measure currently in the works is Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which lists digital literacy as one of many allowable activities for adult education programs. Elsewhere, the Digital Equity Act (H.R. 4486/S. 1167) would make a more substantial and targeted investment in digital literacy via state grant programs. Digital literacy investments also could be boosted through other federal workforce and education policies, such as the Higher Education Act and the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.