Report finds UK not on par with OECD members on digital up-skilling

OECDImage: The main entrance to the OECD Conference Centre in Paris. Photo: courtesy of Nick-D/

A new study from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that the UK has a lot more to do as far as digital up-skilling is concerned.

The report, Thriving in a Digital World, finds that the proportion of young people without basic digital skills in the UK is relatively high compared to their counterparts in other countries that are members of the organisation. However, on the brighter side, the percentage of older people with low skills is falling below the OECD average.

The report found that 13.7% of employees face high risk of automation at their respective occupations and would require moderate training efforts, of up to a year to up-skill themselves to take up safer roles.

Although the number of UK employees in the adult learning stage is above the OECD average, those who are more exposed to high job risk caused by automation take part less in comparison to those at low risk.

The UK is not the only country that is facing the problem of falling short on digital up-skilling with the US giving it company with the Thriving in a Digital World report finding an average level of skill proficiency for the latter in comparison to other members.

Interestingly, it is not the bigger economies that top the chart but the likes of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden, which the OECD report found are well placed for equipping their respective populations with the necessary digital skills.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría said: “A well-rounded skillset is critical to unlocking the benefits of digitalisation. However, the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) reveals that 15% of adults lack basic digital skills, and 13% lack basic digital, numeracy and problem-solving skills.

“This is really scary, as citizens without basic skills are at risk of being left behind by the digital transformation. Moreover, on average in the OECD, 6.6% of young graduates have low literacy and numeracy skills. But this share goes up to almost 20% in some countries. This means that holding a tertiary degree does not always guarantee a high level of skills.”

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