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Digital Jobs: Building Skills for the Future

Digital jobs are created through the application of information and communications technologies (ICT) to a new or existing activity or process. Digital jobs generally include performing information-based tasks that build the individual’s capacity for future work. A digital job can be distinguished from other jobs such as manufacturing because the core product produced by a digital jobs worker (sometimes called an “information worker” or “knowledge worker”) is information or knowledge, as opposed to physical objects or services such as a haircut or a meal. The core tools for digital jobs are ICTs, such as computers, databases, smart phones and the internet, which they use to manipulate and manage information.

An important factor that is driving the globalization of digital jobs is the nature of bits vs. atoms. Physical objects are made of atoms, which are difficult to replicate and expensive to transport, whereas bits can be copied freely and sent around the world through global communication networks at extremely low cost.3 The ability to inexpensively transport perfect copies of information, all over the world, opens up an opportunity for people across the globe to work in digital jobs. Today, digital jobs exist in almost every sector of the economy, including healthcare, agriculture, education, finance, media, manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, manufacturing, and public services provided through the government. Digital jobs can include:

Application of ICT to existing processes to make them more efficient, such as through digitization of existing processes and outsourcing of back-office services; n Creation of new products, services and communities based on the virtual economy including exchanges of virtual goods and currencies, as well as games and online communities;

Harnessing new and existing information in creative ways, including the potential of “big data” to allow companies, governments, and citizens to use data and information to make decisions; and

Transactional platforms that enhance access to services and trade, such as eCommerce, eGovernment, and mobile applications.

These digital jobs can be found in large corporations, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments that embed ICT in their existing operations to become more effective and efficient. There are also new businesses that have been created to harness ICT, including purpose-built Information Technology (IT) and IT Enabled Services (ITES) firms. In these ways, the growing digital economy creates new products, services and networks leading to new job opportunities.