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What digital skills do adults need to succeed in the workplace now and in the next 10 years?

The Warwick Institute forEmployment Research (IER) was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to conduct an evidence review and produce an evidence brief to support the work of the Digital Skills and Inclusion Research Working Group. The Group has been convened by the DCMS to support policy making and the implementation of the digital skills and inclusion chapter of the UK Digital Strategy. The aim of the evidence brief is to collate the evidence as comprehensively and systematically as possible to address the policy question: What digital skills do adults need to succeed in the workplace now and in the next ten years?, The brief outlines current definitions of general digital skills and highlights the current and possible future digital skills and competencies likely to be valued by the labour market. Three case study sectors – health and social care, culture and creative industries and financial services – are considered in light of current digital skill needs and developing digital skill requirements. Evidence about the future demand for general digital skills for work points at the increasing importance of 21st century skills, particularly interpersonal skills and ‘cognitive competencies and learning strategies’. It is also argued that occupations where workers use digital skills creatively and to solve problems, such as engineering, are likely to grow, while occupations where digital skills are used for routine tasks, as in some HR occupations, are likely to decline. The key argument emerging from the literature is that a narrow focus on digital skills is not sufficient: technical digital skills are likely to soon become obsolete, and workers instead need non-technical, 21st century skills along with solid literacy and numeracy skills to be able to adapt to fast-changing technologies.