11 Aug 2022

Report: US Workers Lagging in Digital Skills

Above: Anticipated fastest growing ICT jobs in US economy over coming decade

Many Americans lack the digital skills needed to be productive members of the workforce in the 21st century, according to a report released Monday by a Washington DC think tank. The report notes that more high school students in California take a class in pottery than in computer science. Is it reflective of the UK position?

One-third of US workers lack digital skills, with 13% having no digital skills and 18 percent having, at best, limited digital skills, noted the report by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a science and technology institute.

The lack of digital skills in the manufacturing sector is particularly concerning, it added, especially because jobs in US manufacturing increasingly demand a facility with digital skills, which is important for individual workers to be both competitive and productive, and for broader US manufacturing industries as well.

ITIF reports that one in six working-age Americans are unable to use email, web search, or other basic online tools. “It begins with insufficient teaching of digital skills in the K-12 education system. Only a quarter of U.S. high schools have computer classes,” says ITIF Director of Global Innovation Policy Stephen Ezell. “American students aren’t taking STEM courses. They don’t like the hard sciences, and they haven’t developed their math skills. That just leads to a country lacking in basic digital skills.”

“In the corporate world, there’s been a broad under-investment in workforce skills generally,” Ezell adds. “That translates, as well, as under-investment in digital skills. If you look at private sector investment in workforce training, it has fallen 30% as a share of US GDP over the past 20 years.”