Five ECDL National Operators carried out digital literacy studies in their countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Switzerland. The studies consisted of two key parts: self-assessment and practical assessment of digital skills.
The findings revealed that people tend to over-estimate their skills and that significant skills gaps exist even in the analysed countries, which are usually considered to be digitally advanced. Moreover, young people have digital skills gaps that are as wide as in the rest of society.
Many international indicators are based on activities that people self-report to carry out on their computers or online. In fact, these indicators do not measure how good people are at these activities and if they have the right skills to carry them out effectively and safely. Only practical tests can reliably check the actual levels of digital skills. Structured training and certification have a positive impact on final performance. Moreover, certification objectively evaluates training quality and provides proof of the skills acquired. Thus, all self-assessment tools (such as the Europass CV digital competence grid) should be complemented with a diploma or a certificate as evidence of the claimed competence level.
The insufficient levels of digital skills have a negative impact on business development. Data from the Netherlands, Greece and Singapore shows that employees waste a significant amount of their working time when dealing with difficulties related to digital applications. Following digital training and certification, considerable savings in time and money can be achieved in solving these application-related problems.