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Building tomorrow’s digital skills: What conclusions can we draw from international comparative indicators?

While digital technology plays an increasingly important role in our lives, and political systems are mobilizing to make the most of its leverage effect on innovation and economic growth, 56 per cent of adults lack digital skills, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This report looks at the conditions impacting the development of digital skills based on five international comparative surveys, the results of which reveal a sample group of twelve countries [Australia, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Sweden] whose population have particularly high levels of digital skills. Building on these results, this report seeks to answer two questions: what has enabled these countries to rise to the top of the rankings in terms of digital skills, and what can other countries to do catch up?; Comparison between the different surveys confirms that factors affecting the level of children’s digital skills include: age at which children are acquainted with information technology; nature and level of diversity of online activities; and level of ICT use by teachers. Adults’ skills are more widely determined by socio-economic factors, especially the level of educational attainment, indicating a link between inequalities in education and levels of digital skills. The report also shows a knock-on effect of digital skills, which can be positive or negative. Analysis of the characteristics of the best-performing countries reveals that other factors indirectly impact the development of digital skills by laying the groundwork for an enabling environment: quality of infrastructure, level of digitization of businesses and quality of digital content. Consideration of education and labour market policies in the countries in the sample group highlights good practices, such as monitoring the level of digital skills, integration of digital technology in the global education ecosystem (beyond ICT lessons), supporting educational reforms with proper teacher training and fighting against digital exclusion which often leads to social exclusion. Ultimately, this report shows that to achieve the best conditions for the development of digital skills, public authorities must pursue efforts in two areas: policies that create a supportive framework, and sectoral policies for basic and further training. To ensure that these policies are as relevant as possible, they must design through collaboration between governments, educational and training institutions and businesses.