Why do you need digitally literate employees? How to increase digital competence of your employees
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is an extended term for information technology (IT) which stresses unified communications, and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers (software, middleware, storage), and audio-visual systems, to enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
Information refers to their knowledge obtained from reading, investigation, study, or research. Information has become increasingly central to a productive life giving rise to the term the Information Age.
Communication is an act of transmitting messages – a process whereby information is exchanged between individuals using symbols (sign or verbal interactions). Communication is essential to gain knowledge.
Technology is the use of scientific knowledge, experience and resources to create processes and products that fulfil human needs. Communication is enhanced through technology.
Digital literacy is defined as “the power to use digital tools to solve problems, create innovative projects, and enhance communications”.
Digital literacy is when employees are able to engage with multi-media to read and interpret text, sounds and images. Digital literacy is when employees can manipulate and evaluate data to construct their own meaning. Digital literacy also includes having knowledge about how to use technology to construct meaning, but most importantly in ways that are appropriate to their needs.
Some examples of Digital Literacy:
Understanding how to use web browsers, search engines, email, text, blogs, Powerpoint, video creation/editing software
Creating contents with innovative means
The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens identifies the key components of digital competence in 5 areas:
Information: To articulate information needs and to judge the relevance of the source and its content
Communication: To interact, communicate and collaborate through digital technologies
Content Creation: To create and edit digital content
Safety: To protect devices, content, personal data and privacy in digital environments
Problem Solving: To identify needs and problems and to resolve them in digital environments
It is extremely important to have these competences, not only for the company, but also for the employees themselves.
Employees believe digital brings improvements:
71% of them identify the team benefits of innovation, agility (69%) and productivity (68%).
Employees are actively seeking digital skills and they are aware of the speed of change.
A vast majority of employees (81%) acknowledge that digital technologies will transform the way they work in the next years. Most of them are proactively learning new digital tools and technical skills to prepare them to adapt to digital advances.
Business leaders must be sensitive to the likely concerns their employees have about the digital working environment. Workers’ greatest worry is the pressure to keep up with new technologies to remain effective, and 70% worry that remote working will erode team spirit.
Unsurprisingly, the young, better educated and those with higher level occupations are more positively disposed to digital technologies in the workplace.
In order to boost the digital competences of the employees, employers have to:
Define the digital skill gap within the workforce – defining required skills and required level of competency by job
Foster leadership behaviors that fuel a digital culture – set clear direction, engage with the workforce using collaboration technologies, actively encourage feedback and innovative thinking
Develop required digital competencies within the workforce – use new training method to learn via social learning platforms and other online forums.
See also interesting resources HERE
Employers need digitally literate employees because modern jobs require digital producers, and computer use is only the beginning.
Because the workforce is becoming more and more digitized, employers now are looking for new hires to be digitally literate with the soft skills like collaboration, persuasive communication, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.
When a workforce has better digital skills, it make organizations more productive and competitive. It’s in the interests of both individuals and organizations, therefore, to invest in the digital competences to identify, evaluate and absorb information.
The “digital skills” challenge can be difficult to overcome.
Where to start in order to upgrade the digital competence of your employees? In which areas should an entrepreneur invest more and which are the digital skills that should be fostered? But most of all, how to effectively increase digital literacy among the workers?
The easy solution “one-size fits them all” definitely do not work when it comes to increasing digital competence. Different workers will have different levels of knowledge. If the entrepreneur/company really wants to see some benefits from the digital upgrade they decide to undertake, a blended and ongoing approach should be pursued.
A blended and ongoing approach means offering to employees a wide range of solutions and opportunities of continuous learning that will allow them to extend their skills and competencies in an effective way.
In order to digitally empower their employees, entrepreneurs should first of all exploit the insights they collected during the years about their workforce so that a defined and customized program of learning can be outlined.
Before starting to decide which initiative would fit better the company, a bottom-up strategy should be followed: start from the worker, understanding which are the current digital skills of the employees and clearly assess the current state of the company.
Understand where best to focus investment in digital skills initiatives to achieve the greatest impact and most beneficial outcomes, and how to design digital skills interventions.
Once a baseline about the current state and needs is drawn, concrete strategies can start to be evaluated and implemented.
Consider formal training and education
The Company/Entrepreneur can decide to collaborate with external training institutions or make the most of its internal units in order to organize proper and structured courses for the employees.
Consider a collaboration with educational institutions
Collaborating with higher education institutions or other educational institutions may be a cost-efficient way to provide formal training and mutual benefit.
The students (maybe getting trained to one day provide formal education) will get familiar with the world of work while the company will receive new resources.
Consider organizing group learning and self-studying sessions
Different projects co-funded by the European Union aim at stimulating digital literacy across Europe. Self-learning and open platforms (Open Educational Resources) can be found.
Employees are not always aware of the existence of free open tools. Making this strategies explicit and directing them towards the most appropriate resources will help them in the process of self-study.
Consider other informal ways of learning like:
drop-in sessions, genius bars and cafes
digital academies that curate resources such as ‘how tos’, video clips or webinars
talks from internal and external experts
‘bootcamps’ and mentoring for leaders
discussion groups and communities for peer support
digital champion networks to aid the spread of digital skills throughout the organisation
digital development plans to help individuals set goals and track progress.
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The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.