Global Education Monitoring Report

Target 4.4: Skills for work

By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

Chapter 11 PDF

CREDIT: Amanda Nero/IOM. Every beneficiary of a Cash for Work programme delivered by the IOM has the opportunity to take literacy lessons for three months.

Key Messages

  • Monitoring the global indicator on information and communications technology skills involves determining whether adults and youth have carried out any of nine activities. Data are scarce outside high income countries. In 15 upper middle income countries, only two of these activities were carried out by at least one‑third of adults: copying and pasting files and attaching files to emails.
  • But monitoring these basic skills may be insufficiently informative because even simple technology solutions for low-literacy users require intermediate skills. The challenge for monitoring higher-order skills is defining them and finding a cost-effective way to measure them.
  • DigComp, the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens, first developed in 2013 for EU countries, has been adopted with small adjustments as a global framework for digital literacy skills. Given the huge range of digital literacy assessments, a review is needed to see which would be most relevant and cost-effective.
  • Monitoring social and emotional skills is challenging. The 2015 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment measured collaborative problem-solving. An interesting result was that native students in schools with more immigrants performed better than those in schools with fewer immigrants in countries including Israel, Italy and Spain.
  • Financial education can help protect migrants and refugees against scams and enable them to make the most of remittances. Indonesia’s national strategy on financial literacy provides prospective and actual migrants with training. Participants were more likely to make a budget and had almost twice the savings as a similar group that did not receive the training.

The global and thematic indicators on ICT and digital literacy aim to capture skills beyond literacy and numeracy that are becoming almost universally important for the world of work. The indicators require governments to consider skills acquisition outside school.

The global indicator on youth and adults with ICT skills draws on household survey self-reporting of selected activities in the previous three months. The latest ITU data show that copying and attaching files to emails are the only skills that more than one out of three respondents exercised in typical middle income countries; the respective rates were 58% and 70% in high income countries (Figure 10). Programming remains a minority activity even in the latter.

Figure 10: ICT skills remain unequally distributed

The thematic indicator on digital literacy skills goes well beyond the ability to use ICT equipment. A new global framework for digital literacy extends the European Commission’s DigComp framework to include a wider, increasingly complex set of use examples reflecting the cultural, economic and technology settings of low and middle income countries, e.g. skills farmers require to make farming and trading decisions using a mobile phone service, buy and sell products via smartphone app or build a data-driven irrigation system using moisture sensors linked to a laptop.

Identifying cost-effective tools to measure these competences remains the greatest challenge. Digital literacy assessments vary by purpose, target group, items, delivery, cost and responsible authority. A French example offering citizens free access to a digital skills assessment, diagnosis of strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for learning resources may be a way forward.

Assessing entrepreneurship competences, a target 4.4 focus for which no indicator has been developed, faces similar challenges. Social and emotional skills, including perseverance and self-control, are among a wide range of entrepreneurial skills, but measuring them requires caution in interpreting variation across cultures. The OECD is developing an international Study on Social and Emotional Skills among 10- and 15-year-olds.

Three in ten adults do not know how to attach files to emails in high income countries

Previous year’s Target 4.4