Digital Skills Required

New study from OECD & Randstad shows need to focus on digital skills


  • Study of over 417 million online job postings shows demand for digital jobs continues to grow.  In the US, they have grown 24 per cent in the last four years alone.
  • Software developers, programmers and engineers are in particular demand. In Canada, Singapore, and Spain software developers and engineers account for close to 50 per cent of the postings for digital professionals.
  • Demand for digital skills has outpaced demand for other skills over the past decade and demand for advanced data analytics has spread across jobs 15.5x more quickly than the average for all skills.
  • Randstad & the OECD are suggesting four priority areas for policymakers and businesses to help employees embrace digital transformation.



A new report launched today by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in partnership with Randstad has considered 417 million online job postings in 10 countries over the last decade to illustrate how the digital transition is affecting the labour market. The results show that digital jobs make up a significant share of all vacancies posted online and account for the following percentage of all job postings:


•   Spain – 12 per cent •   Germany – 10 per cent
•   Italy – 12 per cent •   Belgium – 9 per cent
•   Netherlands – 11 per cent •   US – 7 per cent
•   Singapore – 11 per cent •   France – 7 per cent
•   UK – 11 per cent •   Canada – 6 per cent



In the US, online job postings for digital jobs have grown 24 per cent in the last four years, led by a 116 per cent surge in adverts seeking data engineers.


Software developers, programmers and engineers are in particular demand. In the UK approximately two in every three online job postings for digital professionals are seeking software developers and programmers. In Canada, Singapore, and Spain, software developers and engineers account for close to 50 per cent of the postings for digital professionals. In Germany and France, the share of job postings for software developers and programmers is slightly lower, but still considerable, at 37 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.


Computer and data analysts or administrators represent approximately one in five of the selected digital occupations across the 10 countries analysed. Jobs such as ICT technicians and data entry clerks represent a smaller fraction of overall online job postings in all countries. These are below 20 per cent for all countries, and as low as 7 per cent in Germany and 9 per cent in Belgium.


The pace of digital transformation is driving more than just demand for professionals in digital occupations. It is more importantly changing the skill sets that workers will need to thrive in these jobs. Demand for typical digital skills has spread across different occupations and sectors faster than for other skills over the past decade, analysis of online job postings shows. This means occupations that only a few years ago were not using digital tools or requiring digital skills, are now becoming increasingly digitized.


The report looks at the speed at which five digital skills categories have filtered into the jobs market:


  • Advanced data analytics: Demand for data analytics has spread across jobs 15.5x more quickly than the demand for the average skill. In the US, the pace is 15x faster than for average skills and 5x faster in Singapore.
  • Cybersecurity: Growing risk of cyberattacks has sparked increasing investment in security and risk management, leading to an increase in the hiring of workers with cybersecurity skills. Demand in the US is diffusing across job roles more than 10x faster than the demand for the average skill, while in the UK the pace is 6.6x faster.
  • Programming: Programming skills are also in high demand because they play a key role in a variety of fast-growing job categories. In the US and UK, the demand has been diffusing between 6-9x faster than for the average skill, while it’s slower in Canada and Singapore.
  • Automation and the Internet of Things (IoT): Skills related to automation and the IoT are diffusing as much as 6x quicker on average than demand for other skills, fueled by the growing popularity of products for smart homes, and of smart wearables such as watches. The pace has been especially quick in the UK and US, happening 6-7x faster than the average skill, respectively.
  • Digital skills related to business and sales: With digital technologies in use in nearly all productive sectors of the economy, there are rising needs for a range of related skills. The demand for digital skills connected to business and sales spread across different jobs 8.5x faster than the average, with the strongest growth in social media skills. The diffusion of programming skills demands was up 8x faster than the average, while that for IT automation skills increased 6x faster.


“We are in the middle of a profound shift in how we all work and that brings challenges and opportunities,” said Sander van ‘t Noordende, CEO of Randstad. “We all must focus on how we can adapt, reskill and embrace technology to find opportunities in this new world of work. However there is a risk that people are left behind. I believe business leaders and policymakers need to step up to make sure the digital revolution is an equal one for all workers.”


Stefano Scarpetta, Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD, added: “New challenges require new data and tools. As labour markets evolve rapidly, the OECD is supporting countries by analysing the demand for skills, extracting information from millions of job postings published online. With these ‘big data’ tools we are able to take the pulse of today’s labour markets and help policy makers to design effective labour market and training policies that open opportunities to all.”


The data demonstrates the urgent need for a coordinated effort between businesses and policymakers to ensure workers can succeed in a digital driven labour market.

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