Field: Strukturomvandling

Skills to drive digital transformation

Digital technologies are driving change, but digital skills are likely to be the critical determinant of success in the future.

Digital transformation is a multi-faceted phenomenon that originates from the synchronous adoption of a bundle of digital technologies. The transformation progressively touches all sectors in the economy but it does so to different extents. To measure how firms simultaneously use different technologies, we calculated a digital maturity index (Growth Analysis, 2019). Results highlight that ICT and Energy & Recycling are the top two sectors, while the construction, transport & logistics and manufacturing sectors, on the other hand, are laggards. Digitally mature firms are also more profitable and have higher productivity. Finally, the Swedish ICT sectors performs below the OECD average in the digital skills dimension.

Digital technologies are driving change, but digital skills are likely to be the critical determinant of success in the future. Digital transformation changes the task content of occupations and the skills needed to perform them. Our foresight describes a probable future of work and articulates the digital skills required (Tillväxtanalys, 2020a). A panel of 30 rigorously selected experts were invited for the study and from their evaluation, seven possible future scenarios emerge.

Likely to occur within 10 years

  • Digitalisation is unlikely to destroy large numbers of jobs. However, the task content of occupations will change continuously.
  • Transport, Wholesale & Retail, ICT and Manufacturing are the sectors most likely to run the risk of significant change
  • It is not always the digitally mature sectors that are most likely to change
  • The task content of occupations in customer support, data analysis, marketing and administration are most likely to be fully automated
  • Businesses require a mix of general digital skills, complementary non-technological skills and ICT specialist skills
  • Man and machine will collaborate in order to use each other’s strengths
  • There are still more men than women in ICT-specialist occupations

As the digital transformation unfolds, businesses require employees with a mix of digital competencies. In addition, employees’ skills need to be increasingly flexible to adapt to new or different tasks. The Swedish education system need to give students the forward-looking skills they need to work in firms that transform digitally. Our study of the digital skills 206 university and vocational school courses provide indicate a miss-match between the skills businesses need and what the courses offer (Tillväxtanalys, 2020b).

As digital transformation touches all sectors, all businesses need employees with general digital skills whereas the courses offered tend to focus more on providing complementary non-technological skills.

Our three studies lends support to two policy implications. First, the digital maturity indicator can monitor the implementation of Sweden’s overall digital- and Enterprise policy goals. Second, the Swedish government’s strategic innovation partnership program on digital transformation need to take into account that the Swedish business life need a mix of digital skills to transform digitally.

Skills to drive digital transformation

Serial number: Rapport 2020:02

Reference number: 2018/159

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