Investing in Digital Skills: Unlocking the Potential of the American Workforce

Closing the Digital Skill Divide, a new report released by the National Skills Coalition (NSC) in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, provides a real-time snapshot of the demand for digital skills in the US labor market. The report reveals that 92% of jobs analyzed require digital skills, while previous NSC research found that one-third of workers do not have the foundational digital skills needed to succeed in today’s job market. The digital skill divide disproportionately impacts workers of color, low-income individuals, and rural residents, resulting from historic underinvestment and structural inequities.

The report dispels the myth that demand for digital skills is limited to the tech sector, finding strong demand for digital skills across all industries and occupations, including entry-level and frontline positions. The findings come at a critical time, as states implement the $2.75 billion Digital Equity Act, part of the bi-partisan infrastructure law, aimed at closing the digital divide.

The report shows that targeting resources towards digital skill building can generate significant economic benefits for workers, businesses, and the broader economy. For instance, workers who qualify for jobs that require even one digital skill can earn an average of 23% more than in a job requiring no digital skills. Moving from a job requiring no digital skills to one requiring at least three can increase pay by an average of 45%. These increased earnings could generate more state and federal tax revenue, while reducing turnover costs for businesses.

The report emphasizes the need for policymakers and program administrators to view digital skill development as a baseline necessity, just like digital access, to ensure economic mobility for the communities and workers they serve.