In light of the changing skills requirements regarding the use of digital technology, the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) commissioned a study (Chinien & Boutin, 2011) to develop and validate a digital skills framework for generic users of digital technology in the Canadian workplace. This work was done to support HRSDC’s current efforts to update the department‘s Essential Skills Framework and to re-examine the existing concept on computer use as one of the nine essential skills, to determine its continued relevance and to make the necessary adjustments in order to more fully reflect the changing skills needs of Canada‘s digital, knowledge-based economy.
Insight gained from a national and international review of various key digital concepts and major frameworks, buttressed by HRSDC’s research in foundational and transversal skills, were used as building blocks for developing the framework (Figure 1). As shown, digital skill is not depicted as a new skill concept, but rather a multifaceted concept which encapsulates four skill clusters: Digital Technical Skills; Digital Information Processing Skills; Foundational Skills; and Transversal Skills. These four skills clusters and their corresponding definitions were grouped together structurally into a digital skills framework. The HRSDC essential skills concepts provide the foundational skills to be able to work with digital technology generally, as well as the essential skills that support and grow with the development of proficiency in technology use – in an ongoing (transversal) way. In addition, the framework breaks down those underlying skills that manifest themselves more particularly when working with digital technology, including both digital technical skills and digital information processing skills.
|Figure 1: Digital Skills Framework for Canadian Workers|
Digital Information Processing Skills
|Communicate information||Share digital information with others at work|
|Create information||Generate new digital contents and knowledge by organizing, integrating, adapting, and applying digital information|
|Apply information||Use information of various digital formats effectively and efficiently to perform job tasks|
|Assess information||Judge the quality, relevance, usefulness, validity, and applicability of digital information|
|Integrate information||Interpret, analyze, summarize, compare and contrast, combine, repurpose, and represent digital information|
|Organize information||Decode, restructure, and protect digital information|
|Access information||Locate, select, and retrieve digital information|
|Determine information needs||Recognize, define, and articulate digital information needs|
|Input information||Identify, recognize, record, and store digital information to facilitate retrieval and use|
Thinking / Problem-Solving
Working with Others
Transversal skills are the desirable broadly transferable, non-technical skills, which when combined with specific occupational/technical skills, contribute to the optimization of human performance at work.
IN THE CANADIAN
Digital Technical Skills
|Use Digital Systems and ToolsUse computers and other hardware to perform job tasks|
|Use Software ApplicationsSelect and use appropriate software to perform job tasks|
|Apply Security Measures in Digital EnvironmentsProtect hardware, software applications, data, and personal information|
Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Document Use, Numeracy
Foundation skills refer to gateway basic literacy and numeracy skills components for which there is often or always a minimum proficiency level required before someone can engage with digital technology and demonstrate or develop the more precise digital information processing skills.
The Canadian Digital Skills Framework includes a key set of information processing skills that Canadian workers can acquire to deploy digital skills effectively and efficiently. These information processing skills are: (Chinien & Boutin, 2011, pp. 2-3).
- Create information: Generate new digital contents and knowledge by organizing, integrating, adapting, and applying digital information;
- Apply information: Use information of various digital formats effectively and efficiently to perform job tasks;
- Assess information: Judge the quality, relevance, usefulness, validity, and applicability of digital information;
- Integrate information: Interpret, analyze, summarize, compare and contrast, combine, repurpose, and represent digital information;
- Organize information: Decode, restructure, and protect digital information;
- Access information: Locate, select, and retrieve digital information;
- Determine information needs: Recognize, define, and articulate digital information needs; and
- Input information: Identify, recognize, record, and store digital information to facilitate retrieval and use.