Defining Essential Digital Skills in the Canadian Workplace: Final Report

July 26th, 2011 by Monika Jankowska-Pacyna

The WDM – Consultants, Chris Chinien. Ph.D. and France Boutin, Ph.D., carried out a study on behalf of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), designed 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 concludes that digital skills are essential survival skills for the 21st century. They are not merely about operating digital systems and tools, but involve 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; updating HRSDC’s Essential Skills occupational profiles to replace “computer use” with “digital skills” and including a new complexity scale reflecting this broader concept. They also encourage 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.

Full report is available in PDF format from National Adult Literacy Database’s Library.