What are E-ssential skills? A multimethod approach to 21st-century digital skills within the creative industries

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

429 Downloads (Pure)


The rapid integration of information and communication technology (ICT) results in continuously evolving digital skills that are necessary for employment. As global competition is becoming increasingly knowledge-centric, the requisite digital skills include not only technical skills such as the ability to perform basic practical tasks online but also a more generic set of skills. Workers are expected to possess skills such as the ability to communicate across cultural and institutional boundaries, to work in remote teams, and to create and share knowledge in digital environments.

To understand the consequences of digitization in terms of individual workers’ skills, the term 21st-century digital skills is introduced. The focus is on the following core skills: information management, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving. The essence is what workers can do with ICTs to support a broad spectrum of 21st-century skills and in turn take full advantage of ICTs. A main contribution is made to the concept of 21st-century digital skills by clarifying, operationalizing and testing its value within the creative industries. The creative sector represents a knowledge-intensive industry characterized by rapid technological changes and is therefore used as a case study.

Besides the interdisciplinary conceptual and operational elaboration of 21st-century digital skills, the significance of these skills is demonstrated by applying a multimethod research approach. Furthermore, this dissertation discusses potential causes of differential skills at the level of the individual worker. To further strengthen 21st-century digital skills, it is preferable to first raise awareness before attempting to reshape practice. The overarching goal of skill policy should be the creation of a broader digitally skilled workforce. The involved stakeholders (e.g., education, industry, and individual workers) all have their responsibility and must take the call to action to fulfill the demands of the labor market.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • van Deursen, Alexander J.A.M., Supervisor
  • van Dijk, Jan A.G.M., Supervisor
  • de Haan, Jos, Supervisor, External person
Award date1 Nov 2019
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-4867-0
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


Dive into the research topics of 'What are E-ssential skills? A multimethod approach to 21st-century digital skills within the creative industries'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this