Defining Essential Digital Skills in the Canadian Workplace: Final Report (2011)
The goal of this study, carried out on behalf of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), was to re-examine the existing concept of computer use as one of the nine Essential Skills and to make adjustments to more fully reflect the changing skills needs of Canada’s knowledge-based economy.
The study included a literature review; consultations with employers; the proposal of a framework for defining the essential digital skills for work in Canada; the identification of existing tools for assessing those skills; and the development of a new complexity-rating scale for digital skills.
The authors conclude that digital skills are essential survival skills for the 21st century. They note that digital skill is not merely about operating digital systems and tools, but involves more complex cognitive skills for processing different types of information effectively. As a result, policy targeted to access and equity in digital technology cannot be limited to physical access, but must also focus on intellectual access.
The authors recommend using the digital skills framework developed for this study as the basis for further research.
They also recommend updating HRSDC’s Essential Skills occupational profiles to replace “computer use” with “digital skills” and including a new complexity scale reflecting this broader concept; conducting further research to investigate the interconnectedness of the four skill cluster included in framework; and ensuring that the definitions of digital literacy remain fluid to allow for adaptations to reflect changes in technology.