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New Report: Digitalization and the American Workforce

Colleagues, you may be interested in a new report that was issued by the Brookings Institution this past week. It is based on an analysis of data from O*Net and other sources, and shows how digitalization increased from 2002 to 2016 in 545 different occupations. The report does not call out English learners per se, but does look at effects by race/ethnicity. It describes both the potential benefits and the potential harms of digitalization.

"In 2002, 56 percent of the jobs studied required low amounts of digital skills. Nearly 40 percent of jobs required medium digital skills and just 5 percent required high digital skills. A lot has changed. By 2016, the share of jobs requiring high digital skills had jumped to 23 percent. The share requiring medium digital skills rose to 48 percent. And in a huge shift, the share of jobs requiring low digital skills fell from 56 to 30 percent."

Find the report here:



durenclee's picture

I am particularly interested in this recommendation - and think it needs to be brought to the attention of ALL WIOA partners, but particularly Adult Education policy leaders (emphasis my own):

Second, and perhaps more important,governments, the civic sector, and industry should develop strategies for radically broadening the exposure of those without a college degree tobasic workplace productivity software. After 30 years of digitalization, the facts are increasingly clear: a basic knowledge of Microsoft Office and other everyday software is now a prerequisite for joining the mainstream economy. Going forward, career on-ramp and opportunity jobs will be increasingly digital, so regions and intermediaries that want to craft an advanced economy that works for all will need to help underrepresented populations skill up in a specifically digital manner.  (page 50, )
We know that we need to be working SO FAR beyond "get an HSE" for the people we serve.
One way to help them understand the need to think beyond is for our POLICY leaders to change accountability to allow for goals and assessment that are ONLY tied to digital literacy. We need to be able to help our clients when they return (or even arrive initially) and ask ONLY to be assisted in improving digital literacy. And we need an EFFECTIVE, AUTHORIZED (and affordable) assessment to measure their growth in this area.
Michael Cruse's picture

Thanks for your comments, Duren.  I agree that we need better digital literacy assessments, to set baselines, and measure growth.  I think the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment (NDLA) is a good example, but encourage others to share works, and what does not work, in using this assessment? 

I'm curious what other digital literacy assessments people are using with learners?  While I like the NDLA for persons going into office-based careers, I think more contextualized assessments for the growing number of careers relying on mobile digital technology would be valuable.  Do you know of any digital literacy assessments focusing on mobile technology, specifically in the areas of wholesale/retail logistics, healthcare, and/or tourism/hospitality?


Mike  Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator 

Alison Ascher Webber's picture

Hi All, Just another note to encourage feedback on NorthStar. They are upgrading their curriculum units and website so now is a particularly good time to give them feedback! You can always email them directly if you prefer-


Alison Ascher Webber

EdTech Center @ World Education

Tom Cytron-Hysom's picture

Just letting you know we (Northstar) plan to have our first upgraded Northstar module ready for release by the 1st of the year. As part of this process, we are reviewing and updating the core benchmarks for each module. The modules will have a new look and graphics which we think people will really like, as well as a better 'player.'.

BTW, you might be interested to know that the Northstar standards have been adopted by Minnesota ABE as statewide content standards, along with CCRS and ACES/TIF.

In response to an offline question from David Rosen about possible plans to develop assessments focused on portable digital devices, specifically smartphones - we hope to do this in the future, but have put a hold on developing any new modules until we finish the update.