About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Delivering digital skills

This guide shares nine steps to preparing the workforce for digital transformation, and 10 case studies that show skills provision in practice.

Key findings:

  • To learn new skills, people in work need access to multiple services: We have found nine components for building learning ecosystems that adapt to changes in skills demand and support individuals in work to learn the competencies they need.
  • Skills forecasting is due a revolution: Accurate and timely local labour market information is important to ensure that the right skills are taught. Some initiatives have developed innovative approaches to identify the skills requirements.
  • Training and accreditation must be responsive to change: The high rate of change in technological development means that curricula for digital skills need to be updated multiple times a year. Accreditation processes must be transformed to keep up.

Digital technology is creating opportunities to increase productivity, catalyse innovation, and improve the lives of adults in work. However, many people do not have the skills to capitalise on the benefits presented by digitalisation. For example, recent research from the OECD found that 40 per cent of people who use software at work do not know how to do so effectively. This is holding the economy back, and puts individuals at risk of redundancy.

What’s more, the accelerated rate of change that accompanies digital transformation means that even those who already have valuable skills for the digital economy will need to update them regularly.

To address these challenges, governments should support the development of responsive and inclusive learning ecosystems that enable continuous learning in the digital age. This guide presents a framework to help governments plan such ecosystems, and shares inspiration from successful real-life initiatives around the world.

Policy recommendations:

  • Collaborate and communicate: Governments should create a coherent learning ecosystem and encourage using feedback to improve training programmes. They should work across ministries and with NGOs and private training providers.
  • Engage employers: Employers can block the the digital transformation of their firms through a lack of understanding. Policymakers ought to encourage employers to invest resources in training for employees, and support them to learn.
  • Budget for soft outcomes: Soft skills, such as communication, and soft outcomes, such as confidence, are essential to positive learner and employment outcomes. They should be budgeted for in upskilling and reskilling programmes.


Jack Orlik

Jack Orlik

Jack Orlik

Programme Manager - Open Jobs, Data Analytics Practice

Jack was a Programme Manager for Open Jobs.

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