ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Digital US, a national coalition focused on equipping all U.S. workers with essential digital skills by 2030, today released a report “Building a Digitally Resilient Workforce: Creating On-Ramps to Opportunity” that addresses the country’s digital literacy fault lines likely to worsen as a result of COVID-19. The report lays out a strategic approach to enable the digital fluency of individuals and companies by the end of the decade, which may prove to be a lynchpin in reskilling and economic recovery efforts following the fallout of the novel coronavirus.
“Today, nearly every aspect of labor market participation is digital – from how we upskill and reskill and find and apply for employment, to how we accomplish daily workplace tasks; so it’s vital that we collaborate in new ways to ensure that all Americans have the ability to navigate in a digital environment and thrive in our modern economy,” said Priyanka Sharma with Digital US and coalition partner World Education.
Andy Trainor, Vice President of Walmart U.S. Learning, agreed. “Digital skills are becoming table stakes in today’s economy, which is why we are committed to making digital skills training accessible to both our associates and customers from the communities we serve. Together, we can make digital readiness and resilience a reality for all Americans.”
An estimated 32 million Americans struggle to use a computer and half of Americans say they are not confident using technology to learn. For these individuals, the shift to an online-only education or a fully online job market threatens to exacerbate the digital gap that already exists. Companies like Wiley, a global leader in research and education and Digital US coalition partner, believe there is an inextricable link between the two, and, as such, Wiley is connecting educators and employers to develop content and courseware needed to build a digitally savvy workforce at scale.
“Digital US shares our urgent commitment to accelerate the development of digital skills in the workforce so we can rapidly rebuild, recover, and collectively thrive in the post-pandemic world,” said Brian Napack, President and CEO, Wiley. “We need an ecosystem-wide approach to close critical skill gaps, especially the massive one between supply and demand for technology talent, so we build real on-ramps to opportunity for all Americans.”
Basic digital fluency is a precursor to more advanced technical skills, and digital literacy is a necessary on-ramp to a livable wage and stable career. “We see first-hand, from our work on-the-ground in states across the US, the importance of helping workers gain new skills in order to get good jobs in the digital economy,” said Beth Cobert, CEO Skillful, a Markle initiative. “Making it quicker, easier and more affordable to acquire those skills is key to opening opportunities and helping our workforce adapt to the new economy.” Creating a workforce with the digital skills employers seek requires a holistic effort and ongoing investment.
A new landscape analysis by Digital US highlights that tens of millions of U.S. workers who lack basic digital literacy skills also lack access to opportunities to develop them.
“We believe equity is at the center of this work. In an increasingly high-tech world, gaps in tech literacy can actually exacerbate existing disparities and constrain the U.S. economy. We need to build on-ramps, especially for frontline workers, through new training delivery models that meet learner-workers where they are,” said Kermit Kaleba of the National Skills Coalition, a Digital US Coalition partner.
The “Building a Digitally Resilient Workforce: Creating On-Ramps to Opportunity” report:
- Shares models to address persistent inequities in access to technology – both hardware and connectivity- and supports for digital skills development.
- Previews pilot programs to provide high-quality and effective training including in the workplace as commonly used service delivery areas, including support for job seekers, healthcare settings and other social services.
- Elevates the need to prioritize digital skills, as well as connect and scale existing programmatic efforts.
Digital US represents a growing coalition of 25 diverse, national organizations working to ensure that all learner-workers in the U.S. have essential technology skills to thrive in work and life. Members include U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, JFF, ISTE, Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, EdSurge, Markle Foundation, National Skills Coalition, National Urban League, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, New America, Goodwill Industries International, Opportunity@Work, World Education and Wiley. These employers, policymakers, funders, educators and workforce development leaders have come together in a collective effort to advocate for and develop a more equitable digital training ecosystem.