The pandemic has more greatly exposed workers who have been unable to participate in the digital economy, threatening to leave them further behind. While nearly one-third of American workers lack even “foundational digital skills,” a recent Brookings Institution analysis found that “digitalization” is increasing across the workforce. In 2016, the number of jobs demanding “high digital skills” rose to 23 percent, up from just 5 percent in 2002.
However, I am hopeful. I believe the pandemic may also have a silver lining: It is creating the change and environment necessary to start bridging this digital divide.
Remote technology is a great start. It has already begun breaking down geographic barriers for workers, especially in areas hard-hit by shifting economies. What’s more, in our new all-digital world, the skills employers will increasingly need, such as computer programming, will become increasingly valuable—people can do them from anywhere, at any time. Workers can now learn the skills they need to participate in a knowledge economy through remote tools—a win for employers and employees alike.