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Digital Literacy: A Must-Have Skill For The 21st Century

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Some skills are in universal demand, no matter the industry. Time management and interpersonal skills are two examples. As time goes on, new skills are added to this category. Nearly every industrial sector majorly pushed ahead in terms of digitization. So it follows that most employers seek out the new type of expertise — digital literacy. 

What is Digital Literacy

According to the American Library Association, digital literacy stands for: 

The ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

Simply put, digital literacy indicates your abilities to work with different information and communication mediums — in-person and digital — as well as interact effectively with different types of software. 

Digital literacy is an umbrella term that incorporates an array of skills the modern workplaces demand such as:

  • Internet and computer proficiency 
  • Coding and web design skills 
  • Understanding of the telecom and connectivity infrastructure
  • Ability to collect, assess, and relay information via digital means 

To make things more complicated, digital literacy is not static. The skills you need to be digitally literate are ever-evolving.

Why Digital Literacy is an In-Demand Skill

Scientific progress shifted many operations to digital channels in nearly every industry. Every day we interact with different software tools and apps to do our personal and work chores. The boom in digitization has spiked the demand for ‘digital’ talent. But the problem is that most employers struggle to find ‘digitally literate’ hires. 

For instance, McKinsey reports that the EU-28 public sector has a major shortage of digital and technological capabilities. By 2023, over 8.6 million people across the EU-28 public sector risk having an “outdated” skill set unless the local institutions invest in upskilling. 

In the private sector, matters ain’t much easier. Over 54% of employers anticipate significant digital skill gaps in the regions by 2023. 

Although the demand for digital skills is global, the gaps impact certain industries more than others. According to the National Skills Coalition:

  •  One-third of the workers in healthcare and social work have no or limited digital literacy.
  • 35% of workers in the manufacturing sector.
  • 36% in hospitality also lack these skills. 

Even more shocking, half of those working in construction and related industries have not developed these capabilities either!

Sounds like a crisis. Is anyone doing anything? 

Yes, both governments and individual companies are attempting to “digitize” the workforce. Microsoft, for instance, launched a global digital skills initiative last year.  Their goal is to provide digital literacy assessments and training to over 25 million across the globe through their two core platforms — LinkedIn and GitHub. The company plans to: 

  • Leverage their corporate data to provide up-to-date information on in-demand roles and skills necessary to secure them
  • Provide free training and eLearning resources for candidates interested in emerging career paths
  • Provide low-cost certifications and free job-seeking tools to help people who develop these skills secure new jobs.

What Does Digital Literacy Involve

So digital literacy is important. But which technical skills employers are after. And more importantly — how do I present them on my resume? Here are four digital literacy examples you should consider. 

1. Computer and Internet Literacy 

Computer literacy indicates your levels of “comfort” with the computers and your efficiency in performing different tasks on them. 

Most employers today expect candidates to have above-average computer literacy and Internet research skills. At this level you: 

  • Know how to use popular office apps (Microsoft products, video conferencing, task management tools).
  • Can perform basic troubleshooting tasks (e.g. kill a glitching program, fix Internet connectivity issues). 
  • Are familiar with different social media networks and search engines. Can use both productively to rapidly find the information you need.
  • Have a decent typing speed. Feel comfortable with asynchronous communication tools (email, Slack, etc). 
  • Have a basic understanding of IT security principles.   

2. Basic Data Analytics Capabilities

Data analytics is the ability to use data to identify problems, recognize patterns, and find solutions. While you may not be a professionally trained data scientist, at times, you should think like one to critically process information and identify trends within it. 

basic data analytics

As the volume of corporate data (big data) expands YoY, the ability to efficiently work with large volumes of data will become crucial for nearly every business role. 

3. Design Thinking

The design thinking process is the act of empathizing with and relating to a user, challenging assumptions about the existing problem or need, and identifying solutions based on a greater understanding of that need or problem.

It’s an approach most UX designers lean on when developing new customer-facing software products. But it’s not just the designers who need this ability today. Workers in manufacturing, construction, and other industries can greatly benefit from this skill too. 

4. No-Code Skills

No-code (or citizen development) is a new movement of simplifying the development of business apps. With a no-code platform, you can assemble simple app or process automation solutions using pre-made designs and point-and-click tools. Little-to-no programming skills are required.

Why employers value citizen developers? Because they tend to be more effective in their personal work, plus reduce the load on the company’s IT department.

If you are interested in the no-code platforms, browse the following solutions:

To Conclude 

Even as the pandemic may be slowing down, it is unlikely many companies will decrease their use of digital technologies any time soon. Likewise, the need for digitally literate workers will only become more pressing. So if you plan to upskill, look into the emerging digital literacy skills. By betting on them, you future-proof your career!


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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