Field: Strukturomvandling

Gettting digital skills right?

Digital transformation and technology-driven changes disrupt conventional industry and business logics. These disruptive forces affect traditional as well as and new digital firms; their operations, business models and skills. Digitalisation is causing significant changes in the world of work. Some job tasks are at risk of being lost to machines, and existing jobs will transform and additional new ones created. As a result, the digital skills, firms need are also changing. The changing nature of work and skills has emerged as an important issue in the public policy debate.

Ensuring that the labour force has the right skills for an increasingly digital world is essential to spur sustainable growth. Several types of skills are in demand: ICT generic skills for workers to be able to use digital technologies; ICT complementary “soft” skills, such as communication, creativity and agile teamwork are required to expand ICT-enabled business opportunities; and ICT specialist skills for workers who develop new technology and support the digital infrastructures.

As the digital transformation unfolds, firms require employees with a mix of digital skills. In addition, employees’ skills need to be increasingly flexible to adapt to new or different work tasks. The Swedish education system need to give students the forward-looking skills they need to work in firms that transform digitally. This study explore the digital skills 206 university and vocational school courses provide. The report uses a qualitative research design with the following methods: desk research, text analysis of the course descriptions and 18 case studies. In the text analysis, the 206 course descriptions are analysed, by using keywords to identify three types of digital skills.

The text analysis of the 206 course descriptions indicate the level of digital skills these courses provide. The results presented in figure 1 show that 59 percent of the total number of keywords hits connects with complementary skills; 29 percent connects with ICT specialists’ skills; and 12 percent with ICT generic skills.

To gain a deeper understanding of the type of digital skills the education system delivers today, this report selected of 18 of these 206 courses for case studies. Results from the case studies highlight that.

  • In response to the fast pace of technological change, the skills employers need also evolve fast and informants at universities and vocational schools describe that it difficult to keep up.
  • The connection between course content and the skills businesses needs to transform digitally are more prominent in vocational schools. To a larger extent informants at universities emphasise a deeper theoretical base rather than more specialised practise oriented needs.
  • Vocational schools collaborate with business life to a higher degree e.g., the courses comprise a quarter practical work experience in firms.
  • There are examples of AI courses that information mention during the interviews but these examples are few.

A recent study highlight that businesses will need a mix of digital skills but as digitalisation penetrates all sectors the need for generic ICT skills are most prominent (Tillväxtanalys, 2020) . This study on the other hand shows that the course content tend to focus more on complementary non-technological skills.

Gettting digital skills right?

Serial number: PM 2020:13

Reference number: 2018/159

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A partial study of the project:

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