Digital competence – improve step by step. (Part 1 of 3)

If you want to swim in the digital ocean in future, you can’t be afraid of the water and have to do more than just get your feet wet. Digital competence is in demand, but what exactly does it mean? The European Commission has provided an informative and significant update, as well as motivation for training and further education.

Experts in education and the labour market are agreed: in the 21st century, digital competence is just as much of a cultural skill that everyone should master as reading or writing are. A new publication from the European Commission – DigComp 2.1 The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens – creates a framework concept to go along with that. The concept from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the EU Commission is an interesting and up-to-date attempt to record the different areas and dimensions of digital competence. Results from over 100 different publications on the subject were considered in the creation of the concept.

What exactly is digital competence?

With regard to discussion about the term, there are different attempts at definitions that are in use, as well as several related names for it, such as information, Internet or media competence. The authors of the EU framework concept consider these different aspects and have come up with a clear picture to make digital competence comprehensible. The cover of the brochure depicts the digital ocean and a person sitting on the folded-out screen of their laptop as if it were a cliff. They are looking at a buoy – ready to dive into the water and find out more about the digital ocean.

Cover of DigComp 2.1 – The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens

DigComp 2.1 - The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens

The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens, published by the European Commission, aims to provide evidence-based scientific support to the European policymaking process and has become a reference for the development and strategic planning of digital competence initiatives.

Keeping up with Industry 4.0 and digitisation

Digitisation and Industry 4.0 have already brought about major changes to our everyday life and our world in terms of information and work. However, these numerous changes have not yet become clearly visible and comprehensible to us. For that very reason, it is particularly important to pay attention to the large amounts of new information and all the innovations. To do so, you need digital competence. What exactly that might involve has been defined in five different competence areas by the authors of the framework concept.

1. Information and innovation belong together

Information and data competence, as well as data processing, make up competence area 1. Whether it is in science, skilled trades or industry: if you want to keep up with the latest developments in your specialist area, these days you have to be able to search for information online with the help of various search engines, and you have to be able to filter through, evaluate and manage the huge amounts of data, content and search results.

2. Communication and project management of the future

Competence area 2 includes communication and cooperation – important skills for future project management. Communication via email, smartphone, and Voice over IP such as Skype is already a matter of course, but data and content are also increasingly being exchanged and shared in the world of work. More and more services, whether at the bank, in hospital or in city administrations, are managed digitally. Communication with digital tools follows certain rules, often referred to as netiquette. Even the popular German book of rules of social behaviour, ‘Knigge’, has had a section on etiquette on social networks for several years.

3. Active participation on the Internet with your own content

Competence area 3 comprises all the skills relating to the creation of digital content. Texts, tables, images and illustrations, audio files, videos and tutorials – all this content is developed, produced and integrated into existing structures. For these purposes, you should know about copyright and licensing issues, and (basic) programming skills are also helpful.

Digital competence is in demand, but what exactly does it mean? The European update. #jobwizards


4. On the safe side – new corporate culture and staff development

Competence area 4 involves security, which is a particularly important topic in terms of corporate culture and staff development. In this case, it is a matter of effectively protecting your own devices, content and applications, so that important company data (and, of course, private, personal data) relating to employees or clients, for example, cannot be stolen (hacked). However, the EU Commission also includes protecting health and well-being (including important energy-saving measures) in this area, as we are now aware that extensive use of digital technologies can damage human health. Responsible managers keep an eye on digital security.

5. Problems are there to be solved

Competence area 5 covers all skills relating to problem solving, because the authors have realised that technical problems of all types are a natural part of digitisation and the digital ocean, just like fish in the real one. New devices, programs and applications require more and more new skills, and the adjustment rarely occurs without disruptions. Whether as a private individual, an employee or a member of management: with the digital evolution, it has more or less become a matter of course that everyone continually comes up against gaps in their knowledge, has to regularly update their digital competence and, ideally, supports their colleagues and fellow human beings in general in doing so, too.

Digital competence– improve step by step part 2 and part 3

Do you want to find out even more about digital competence? In the next blog, part 2, we go into the foundations and middle level of digital competence, with part 3 handling the advanced and highly specialised levels.

Future & Skills