How are companies closing the global digital skills gap?

  • “Insufficient internal skills” is a problem for employers trying to find digital expertise.
  • A report by BT – a British multinational telecommunications company – has found that the skills gap in the UK may have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Digital poverty means that more than 1 in 20 households in the UK do not have access to the internet.
  • Organizations within the EDISON Alliance of the World Economic Forum are working together to bridge the divide.

Huge shifts in how people work have revealed a deep skills gap. As a result, companies are looking for workers with digital experience, and candidates are looking for employers who want to train them.

British organizations cite “inadequate internal skills” as their main challenge over the next five years, according to BT The future in 2021 Transfer. This was particularly acute in the retail sector, where 40% said it was the main challenge, followed by medical and health services, and education. About a third of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) said they found it difficult.

Digital skills are key for 92% of companies, according to a report from the Institute for Learning and Work. More than eight in ten young people realize that these skills will be essential for their future careers and 70% expect employers to train them for the job.

The gap means that many young people are living in digital poverty, unable to learn the skills needed for a successful career. Bridging the gap requires organizations to unite.

How are companies closing the global digital skills gap?

‘Inadequate internal skills’ has become a problem for a range of sectors in the UK.

Photo: BT’s The Future in 2021 report

Young people from lower socioeconomic groups are particularly vulnerable to digital poverty. According to the Institute for Learning and Work report, one in five families with children does not have access to an appropriate device. Moreover, more than 1 in 20 households in the UK do not have access to the Internet.

What is the EDISON Alliance?

2020 may have accelerated the digitization of economies and societies, but it has also highlighted the disparities in digital connectivity and services within society and the role they play in inclusion.

In response, the World Economic Forum launched the Digital Infrastructure and Essential Services (EDISON) Alliance in September to mobilize an ecosystem of global changemakers to prioritize digital inclusion. The alliance aims to make opportunities affordable and accessible to all by 2025.

47% of people don’t benefit from the internet, according to Derek O’Loran, head of the platform Shaping the Future of the Digital Economy and Creating New Value at the World Economic Forum.

“This challenge is about more than infrastructure,” he says. “It’s about the cooperation and investment needed across various industries, governments and civil society to deliver safe and meaningful services to people’s lives.”

Bridging the skills gap

So what are EDISON members doing to bridge the digital skills gap?


Verizon’s “Moving the World For All” plan includes providing 10 million young people with digital skills training by 2030.

Hans Vestberg, Verizon Chairman and CEO, and President of the EDISON Alliance recently pledged Verizon’s commitment to the Forum’s 1 Billion Lives Challenge. With the support of the EDISON Alliance, the Challenge aims to accelerate digital services for underserved populations and demonstrate global digital inclusion as an achievable goal.

“Through the EDISON Alliance, we aim to create a more digitally inclusive world by connecting a billion lives to this fundamental core of our society,” says Hans Vestberg.

The Global Mobile Consortium (GMSA) aims to improve digital inclusion through the Mobile Digital Skills Alliance, which brings together representatives from the mobile and technology industries to improve the digital skills gap in low- and middle-income countries.

One billion people have accessed the Internet through mobile phones since 2015, according to the GSMA, but more than half of the population still does not use a mobile phone.

SMART Africa is a commitment by African Heads of State and Government to accelerate development on the continent through affordable access to broadband and communication technology.

The EDISON Alliance partner has launched an Africa Smart Alliance for knowledge sharing and has grown to include 30 African countries representing more than 700 million people.

According to our 2018 Future of Jobs Report, more than half of India’s workforce will require rehabilitation by 2022 to meet the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

With the largest youth population in the world and more than half of the population of working age, skills development is critical for India to sustain inclusive growth and development.

In late 2018, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with India’s Minister of Oil and Skills Development and the head of business consultancy Infosys, launched a task force to bridge the skills gap in India.

India – The future of jobs 2018

Photo: Forum’s report on the future of jobs for 2018

The task force brings together leaders from business, government, civil society and the education and training sectors to help future-proof India’s education and training systems. Learn more about the Bridging the Skills Gap 2020 initiative.


In an effort to bridge the skills gap, alliance member Google offers confidence-building courses and trains candidates with the digital skills businesses require.

Similarly, Dell Technologies also works as part of the alliance to improve digital literacy and professional skills through competency-based learning. The tech giant also aims to improve connectivity and access to devices for underserved communities.

small enterprises

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), a partner in the EDISON Alliance, helps SMBs improve operations and generate new revenue through the Singapore SME Go Digital programme. To support SMEs, the initiative uses digital technologies to find new opportunities for growth in the digital economy.

The Forum launched the reskilling revolution at its annual meeting in Davos last year. The platform aims to provide better jobs, education and skills to a billion people in the next 10 years through training initiatives such as the Bridging the Skills Gap Accelerator.

More details about the Forum’s reskilling revolution platform can be found in the white paper “Bridging the Skills Gap: Key Insights and Success Metrics”.


Leave a Comment