How Digital Skills Are Transforming the Global Economy 

Gallup and Amazon Use Lightcast Data to Find Out

Published on Mar 13, 2023

Updated on Jun 16, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

digital skills woman with computers

We've heard about the importance of digital skills nowadays - but actually what are digital skills, and what are the true benefits of hiring digitally skilled workers both for employers and for national economies? And what do employees have to gain from boosting their digital skills?

According to a recent Amazon and Gallup report, digital skills have the potential to significantly improve not just individual careers, but the economy as a whole. The report drills down into specific benefits, such as the impact of digital skills in companies’ revenues, employees’ salaries, and even how much they bring to the economy.

Gallup and Amazon used Lightcast data to analyze advertised job postings in 33 countries from mid-2021 to mid-2022. These countries include all European Union countries (except Hungary and Slovakia), the UK, U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Plus, they conducted a survey polling 30,000 workers and 9,300 hiring managers in 19 countries, to review digital skills demand across the globe. The job posting sample overlaps with 11 of the 19 countries that were part of this survey.  

We have broken down the five takeaways of this study to give you an overview of the potential of digital skills in economic development and career advancement. 

The 5 key takeaways of the report

Digital skills generate $18.5 trillion globally

Using Lightcast data, Gallup and Amazon analyzed over 100 million job postings in 19 countries between June 2021 and May 2022, including the advertised salaries for these roles. The study concluded that the more digital skills a job posting requires, the higher the advertised salary. Within the same country, job postings that require 10 or more digital skills advertise, on average, 40% higher salaries than job postings which require the same level of education or experience, but no digital skills.

National and global GDP gains generated by digital workers

The higher salaries and increased productivity of digitally skilled workers generate an astonishing $4.3/£3.6/€4 trillion in annual GDP in the 19 countries studied, and $6.3/£5.3/€5.9 trillion globally. And if we bring intermediate and basic digital skills into the equation, this number rises to $18.5/£15.5/€17.5 trillion, which is 12% of the global GDP. 

Higher salaries and job satisfaction for employees

Workers with advanced digital skills such as cloud architecture and machine learning earn 30% more than those with no digital skills, which can add up to gains of about $14.3K/£12K/€13.5K annually. Money talks, but it’s not just about the paycheck. Luckily for digitally skilled workers, their satisfaction and productivity at work are equally high. 

Based on Gallup and Amazon’s research, 58% of workers with advanced digital skills noted feeling highly satisfied in their jobs, and half of the respondents believe that boosting their digital skills has improved their opportunities to be promoted. Plus, employees with advanced digital skills are more confident in their job security than those with basic digital skills. 

Job satisfaction and job security among digital workers

The barriers to acquiring digital skills 

While this is all great news for employees, they still face barriers when it comes to improving their digital skills. Some of the most common ones cited by respondents include lack of time, lack of financial resources and lack of knowledge of the digital skills needed to advance in their careers. 

As part of Lightcast’s recent webinar, “Unlocking New Possibilities in the Labour Market in the “Year of Skills”, we listed the top 10 most in-demand digital skills in the UK, and this list contains very distinctive skills, from Microsoft Office to Python and SQL. While this data is solely focused on the UK, it gives us a good view of the breadth of digital skills required by companies, so it is not surprising that employees may struggle to understand the digital skills they need. 

Soaring revenue growth for enterprises

The numbers speak for themselves: enterprises that use a high level of digital skills report 168% higher annual revenues than those that don’t use digital skills. Plus, those that employ workers with advanced digital skills are 44% more likely to have steady annual revenue growth. According to the study, highly digital enterprises were also more likely to have launched a new product or service between 2020 and 2022. 

Effects of increasing digitalization within businesses on revenue and growth

Hiring challenges and tight requirements

Despite their high demand, digital skills don’t seem to be enough for employers. Analysis of Lightcast data shows that 51% of job postings in the countries studied list “postsecondary education” as a preference, aside from the requirement for digital skills. Furthermore, based on Gallup’s study, having a computer science degree was worth almost 10 years of work experience for employers.

The stakes are high for employees, but can they match them? Only 31% of employees with advanced digital skills held a bachelor’s degree or equivalent. However, not all is lost, as 75% of the employers surveyed accept other professional certifications as a substitute for a university or college degree. 

Digital skills certifications are an acceptable substitute for a tertiary qualification

Adoption of emerging technologies

Employers are rapidly adopting new technologies, including 5G, cryptocurrency, and the Metaverse. More than half (53%) of UK employers noted that it is “very likely” (rated 8 out of 10 in likelihood) that at least one emerging technology will become standard in their day-to-day operations, while more than a third believe that various emerging technologies will become standard. 

Digital skills have become a major global trend, growing steadily in demand over the last few years. In the UK, for instance, more than 40% of all unique job postings required at least one digital skill in 2022. The trend will continue to grow and impact the labor market as we know it. 

The Lightcast view: embrace digitalisation now 

The figures speak for themselves: hiring and retaining digitally skilled workers is not just the best thing to do, but an essential approach to take, and one that will majorly impact the success of any company. This is particularly pressing for sectors that are highly dependant on new technologies, such as Telecommunications and Financial Services, making competition increasingly tight.

The results of investing in digital skills are not only favorable to enterprises, but to individuals as well, paving the way for more opportunities, high-paying careers and improved job security. To help students flourish in their future careers, and to help enterprises get the digitally skilled talent they need, education and training providers need to be aware of what digital skills to teach, and use data to understand how they match their curriculum portfolio to the skills demands of their local labor market. 

If you’re a talent leader, you don’t necessarily need to hire new personnel to fill in digital skills gaps - upskilling your current workforce may be the most efficient and cost-effective way to innovate and to prosper. Audit the skills you have available in your company, understand how other leading businesses are approaching digitalisation in your sector, and create a ‘digital skills’ talent strategy that can be incorporated seamlessly into your company’s broader goals. How? Through reliable, current and enriched data. 

Using Lightcast to understand digital skills trends

Lightcast provides an Open Skills library with more than 30,000 skills, and 12,000 of those are digital. Also, through Lightcast, you can access job postings data from around the world, talent profiles, sector and job trends, advertised salaries, and much more. 

Gallup and Amazon have trusted Lightcast data to produce this extensive research. If you are interested in uncovering labor market trends for your own research or to solve your organization’s challenges, Lightcast can assist. Reach out to our team to discover how we can help you unlock opportunities in the labor market. 

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