Podcast 🎧 & Blog: Digital skills for full-fledged digital society

07.12.2022 | ega

Digital skills are essential for the development of a full-fledged digital society. We can – and should – expect both companies and governments to develop their services in the most user-friendly way, to actually serve customers and citizens. But how to empower people further, and give them the tools to navigate effectively the information age?

Kristi Kivilo, in-house Senior Expert on Smart Governance, joins today’s episode of the Digital Government Podcast to talk the skills people need in a digital society, and how to get everyone on board with online services.


What are digital skills?

It’s a formula we hear quite often, but whose definition may slip the realm of a simple and direct general rule. While we know these are about the critical and safe use of information technology, the set of skills and knowledge needed may vary in relation to age, occupational status, services accessed.

“The definition does depend on the target group, because we talk about digital skills when it comes to many and different things – how to use services, cybersecurity, coding, and so on,” Kivilo begins with. Expanding the scope to digital skills people need in society at large though, two usual suspects come up.

“If I’d have to pick two, the first would be how to search information on the internet. And the next one would certainly be cybersecurity, in awareness and practices, because it is a field that requires our attention on a day-to-day basis,” Kivilo continues.


The role of digital professionals in the public sector

All governments e-Governance Academy has worked with seek to provide citizens with user-friendly services. But this can often represent a challenge, especially if compared to a new service proposition coming from the private sector.

“Goverments usually have a long catalogue of services that, in the offline world, already exist. So it is key for the public sector to onboard professional figures that actively help with the digital redesigning of public services,” Kivilo highlights.

“Service designers, business analysts, IT lawyers, and so on. Data-related roles too. All these are kind of a new thing for governments, as well as roles and professional expertise that were not much present in schools and universities until ten or so years ago.”


From displaying information to deploying proactive services

But with skills, there shall be awareness too. Not only of the potential new risks users are exposed to in increasingly digital environments, but even simply of the possibilities that a digital state can unlock through its online services.

“In the beginning of Estonia’s digital transformation, setting up the state portal was essentially the first thing to do. So that all information would be available in one place.” But this could also represent a problem – namely, imagine having citizens just go through pages and pages of information and services to find the one thing they are looking for.

“For this reason, public services must be designed to be proactive and seamless, especially now that there are the capabilities for that. Governments should know who you are (ID), what kind of benefit you may have access to (services), where and when you may have to apply for something. And in this way, it is the government turning to you – not the other way around,” Kivilo explains.