Low levels of ICT skills hamper progress to universal and meaningful connectivity

A low level of ICT skills is one of the main barriers to achieving universal and meaningful connectivity.

Because self-reporting of individuals’ ICT skills may be subjective, ICT skills are measured based on whether an individual has recently performed certain activities that require different types of skill. The assumption is that performing these activities implies that one has a certain level of the required skills. Activities are grouped into five categories of digital skills: communication/collaboration; problem solving; safety; content creation; and information/data literacy.

Digital skills are crucially important in leveraging ICTs to boost development. Yet data for such skills remain very scant. Only 78 countries submit data, and rarely for all five categories. Based on this limited dataset, communication/collaboration skills appear to be the most prevalent, with a median of 50 per cent and an average that lies between 31 and 65 per cent for most countries.

The category with the second highest median is problem solving, followed by safety and content creation. In the category with the lowest median, information/data literacy, there was considerable variation between countries.

Another way to explore these data is through the breadth of skills reported in the different countries. The 74 countries that provided data in at least three skill areas varied widely in this respect. Forty-seven countries reported averages of at least 25 per cent in multiple areas, 22 reported averages of over 50 per cent in multiple areas and only five reported averages of over 75 per cent in multiple areas.

The relatively low level of skills in countries providing data contrasts against their high share of overall Internet use – 86 per cent. This gap between individuals using the Internet and those with digital skills demonstrates that many may be using the Internet without being able to fully benefit from it or avoid its dangers.