UNESCO defines digital skills as a “range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information.” Learning digital skills is essential as technology becomes crucial in everyday life. Within them, basic digital skills such as using a computer, navigating the Internet, communicating online and paying for products and services online have become life skills required in a day-to-day professional and personal context. From social interactions to entertainment, from education to professional life, digital skills and the ability to use technology effectively have become fundamental for development and success.
When talking about the importance of digital skills, employability plays a key role. In the following years, 90% of jobs will require at least basic digital skills. Therefore, individuals lacking basic digital skills see their job possibilities restricted, as with other spheres in today’s life. In the employability realm, digital skills play a virtuous circle, where they contribute to the development of different competencies and simultaneously impact salary, aspirations, motivations and confidence, ultimately leading to more and better job opportunities.
But digital skills are more than an enabler of employability. Through digital inclusion, individuals improve their lives integrally. Nowadays, basic digital skills allow people to engage in new forms of socialisation and communication as more social interaction happens online. Using a smartphone, replying to e-mails, video calling, chatting and participating on social media are all forms of today’s communication. The technology eliminates the location barriers when it comes to online socialisation, allowing sharing and collaboration while being in different places.
Digital technology acts additionally as a problem-solver. Through basic digital skills, people can search for and use information online. Individuals digitally included can find solutions to problems by using digital tools and online services, such as tutorials to see how to fix personal appliances. Digital skills also enable people to understand login credentials: what are a username and a password, why are they needed, and how can they be kept safely. Credentials are fundamental to setting up different accounts and doing digital transactions such as paying bills, buying goods and services online and using different secure payment methods.
Education is another sphere influenced by digitalisation. During the last fifteen years, this sphere has been having an increased use of new digital technologies. Technology platforms such as computers, tablets and the Internet are becoming increasingly important in schools and universities as teaching methods become more hybrid and new technologies develop as learning tools.
Basic digital skills allow people to develop their digital autonomy – which gives people not only the freedom to act independently online but to do so while being safe and confident. In this sense, digital literacy empowers them with knowledge, tools and resources to help protect their safety and privacy as much as possible.
While technology is ever-changing, basic digital skills are the base knowledge that can be applied to various types of technology now and in the future. They are, in sum, the first step for a life of lifelong learning through upskilling and reskilling.
By making basic digital skills a priority, our Collective seeks to empower the underrepresented groups digitally excluded that do not have a voice nor can thrive in this digital era. Basic digital skills are fundamental for so many aspects of modern society that we sometimes forget how often we put them into practice. Therefore, our mission is to close the growing digital skills divide so that everybody can equally benefit from the ongoing digital transformation. Join our Collective and be part of our digital inclusion movement in Europe.