Research Finds Canadian Workers Need Baseline Digital Skills to Succeed | Burning Glass Technologies

Most jobs in Canada require at least one digital baseline skill such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office, and digital computing skills, according to new Burning Glass Technologies research. This indicates that Canadian workers who do not have proficiency in at least one digital baseline skill are at significant risk of being left behind.

Burning Glass Technologies examined digital skills in five of the economies that are part of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation): – the United States, Canada, U.K., Singapore, and Australia/New Zealand – baseline digital skills are in heaviest demand in Canada. More than 13% of total job postings ask for Microsoft Excel proficiency, and over 12% for Microsoft Office.

By comparison, the highest-ranking specialized digital skill, SQL, appears in 2% of job postings. This is because unlike baseline skills, specialized skills tend to be requested only in particular sectors of the economy. This suggests that most Canadian workers should master at least one foundational skill, and not rely on just mastery of more specialized skills such as DevOps, data science, and artificial intelligence.

Canada Digital Skills Demand

From 2013 to 2019, the least digital jobs in Canada have experienced the greatest rate of acceleration toward digitalization. This underscores the idea that workers throughout the Canadian workforce should acquire digital skill competencies, not just those in particular industries.

In addition to highlighting distinct features of the Canadian economy, a number of findings in the APEC report regarding Canada also reinforce broader trends that extend to all the countries studied in the report.

For example, the fastest-growing digital skills in the Canadian economy from 2013 to 2019 experienced very high rates of growth in comparison with other economies studied in the report. Significantly, all these skills are considered specialized skills, not baseline skills.

This suggests that internationally, while workers should strive to acquire a well-rounded grounding in the baseline skills, it is especially important for them to stay current with the fast-changing specialized digital skills of the 21st century economy.

The demand for baseline digital skills is ubiquitous, while the most rapid changes are taking place for occupations that previously did not call for digital skills, and for the fast-growing demand for numerous specialized digital skills. By bearing in mind these findings, Canadian workers will be well-positioned to succeed in today’s digital economy.

You can download the full report at the APEC site.