Building an Equitable Digital Ecosystem to Learn, Work, and Thrive
We are at a critical crossroads on our journey to build a resilient workforce and social economic mobility and inclusion for all Americans. In our quest to use digital tools to increase efficiency and impact, we risk creating systems that marginalize individuals that lack the connectivity – and skills – to navigate an increasingly digital world. While unprecedented investment in digital inclusion during the COVID pandemic has helped, the percentage of Americans three and older who use the Internet only increased from 79% to 80% from 2019-2021, with digital divides continuing to reflect existing inequalities when analyzed by race or income (NTIA). The challenge is especially acute in the world of work. 92% of jobs now require digital skills (NSC), yet 73% of service sector workers lack the skills to solve problems in digital environments. Few receive training at work or can access opportunities outside of work to improve their digital skills and develop their “digital resilience,” or their confidence, agility, and capacity to learn to use new technologies.
Persistent gaps in access to technology and opportunities to develop digital skills exacerbate existing disparities, disproportionately impacting Black individuals and people of color due to structural racism.
A third of all American workers aged 16-64 have limited or no digital skills, and about half of all Black and Latino workers need opportunities to develop digital skills (OECD). Three out of four households without home internet are in urban areas, primarily in low-income neighborhoods and disproportionately affecting communities of color (US Census Data). And only about half of individuals living on tribal lands have high-speed internet service.
As a collective impact initiative, the Digital US coalition is tackling the challenge of how to make personalized support for technology access and digital skills development radically accessible, when less than 10% of adults who need foundational digital inclusion supports can access them.
We designed and are scaling new delivery models including digital navigator services to ensure equity in our new learn and work ecosystem. We are partnering with large employers who can help scale supports for diverse frontline and other workers to develop in-demand digital skills and digital resilience. We are forging new partnerships and raising our voices to ensure that new innovations- such as increased use of AI and Learning and Employment Records (LERs) benefit learners and workers rather than exacerbate inequality.
Digital US Coalition is diverse by design: We need a cross-sector approach with stakeholders listening and collaborating in new ways to build an ecosystem that fosters digital skills and digital resilience for all learner workers. Join US to secure a more equitable digital future for all of US.