Will 'Digital Literacy' Determine Your Future Career Success?

25 October 2010

iCeGS

Report by the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) at the University says that 'digital literacy' is important for future career prospects.

The web is now an integral part of many people's lives. But there is more information, advice and guidance available on there for people buying a television than there is for people considering their career choices

Ian Kinder, Assistant Director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills

Inadequate 'digital literacy' could jeopardise your future career prospects, say international career guidance experts.

More must be done to help people to develop web and digital technology-based skills and to help them to be better at judging how trustworthy different online sources of information and advice are.

These online skills can be described as 'digital literacy', says the report by University of Derby academics, published with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) entitled: 'Careering through the Web'.

Dr Tristram Hooley, Professor Tony Watts and Jo Hutchinson from the University's International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) produced the report exploring the potential of web technologies for career development and career support services.

They discuss how traditional psychometric tests such as Myers-Briggs now compete alongside online guidance tools such as a What Careers Suit Your Personality Type? application on the social networking site, Facebook. While these tools may not all be of equal quality those that are freely available on the web have the potential to be used extensively.

They also explore the wider implications of Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies for career development and career support services, including providing opportunities for one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many communications.

The report says: "The growth of a range of new technologies has clearly changed the context within which people's job exploration takes place. In the last 10 to 15 years, the majority of the UK population has moved towards using the internet as an integral part of their lives.

"This has spread to many areas of their lives including career and learning exploration and job searching. The challenge for the consumer to harness the range of new online services to meet this demand is to learn how to find, navigate, prioritise and evaluate this material."

They identify a three-pronged approach to raising digital literacy levels across the UK working population:

  • growing digital literacy to support career management

  • developing mechanisms for quality assurance and recommendation

  • supporting the technical upskilling of careers professionals.

The authors cite the 2009 Digital Britain report (DCMS and BIS) estimating that Digital Britain sectors currently account for nearly £1 in every £10 that the whole economy produces every year.

They argue that digital literacy is necessary in order to successfully pursue a career in a wide range of fields. It is a skill set, which is important as part of a wider set of career management skills, that enables those who possess it to gain personal value from digital information sources by helping them to:

  • Develop the ability to identify career opportunities
  • Gather labour market information
  • Harness networks which are key to individual career success.

But they also recognise that the internet is a notoriously difficult field around which to develop viable public policies. They say that as much activity happens beyond national borders and so much new activity takes place every day, monitoring and legislating on the internet is extremely difficult.

They suggest that to uphold and enhance quality standards, public sector careers services should be encouraged to actively recommend good sites and publicise the creation of a range of portals or aggregators that would serve as 'quality-assured' signposts.

This could be supported by encouraging careers professionals to identify useful resources, using social bookmarking sites like Delicious. The report also suggests that digital literacy should be developed both in schools and with adult learners.

Crucially they also argue that if careers services are to be able to achieve this aim, they will need to ensure that staff are digitally literate themselves.

The report was produced in partnership with the UK Commission for Employment and Skills as part of a programme of activity to inform development of their advice to government in their 2009 report in: 'Towards Ambition 2020 - skills jobs growth'.

Ian Kinder, Assistant Director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills said: "The web is now an integral part of many people's lives. But there is more information, advice and guidance available on there for people buying a television than there is for people considering their career choices.

"We urgently need to harness the power of the web if we are to provide more and better career guidance, and we need to make sure this is accessible to all by ensuring people have the skills they need to use it."

For more details visit the iCeGs pages of the University of Derby website at: www.derby.ac.uk/icegs

For more information contact Deputy Head of Corporate Relations Simon Redfern on 01332 591942 or 07748 920038 or email s.redfern@derby.ac.uk

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