Barclays: Estonia and South Korea lead in digital empowerment

According to the Barclays Digital Development Index, Estonia and South Korea are joint global leaders in digital empowerment among ten countries that were selected based on different criteria to represent a broad spectrum.

According to Barclays, a British banking corporation, the index “is an effort to shift public debate in the UK and elsewhere from a discussion of basic digital competence towards one of digital empowerment, and to understand how ready the UK workforce is for the digital economy, compared with its rivals”.

The index compares the workforce digital skills and attitudes of nations, along with the policies that are in place to improve them. “It is based on a self-assessment survey that asked adult workers in 10 countries to evaluate their current digital skills, what they’ll need in the future, and how their employers and governments are helping them to address the gaps.”

The index assesses the 10 countries in two pillars or empowerment – the individual empowerment index measures workers’ self-assessment of their digital skills in six categories ranging from basic to advanced; the digital empowerment policy index assesses national efforts to create a digitally empowered workforce.

According to the British bank, both Estonia and South Korea are joint leaders in digital empowerment. “Like most (though not all) developed countries in the index, their positions are based on active and well-organised government and business efforts to improve the teaching of digital skills.”

Barclays’ Digital Development Index Top 10

  1. Estonia

1. South Korea

3. Sweden

4. UK

5. China

5. USA

7. India

8. Germany

9. Brazil

10. South Africa

The objective of the index, Barclays says, “is to understand how well countries are equipping their workers for the digital economy”.

“It looks at a broad spectrum of countries, including those currently competing with the UK and those likely to be competitors in the years ahead. These countries include perceived digital pioneers such as Estonia and Sweden, major industrial and high-tech giants such as Germany, South Korea and the US, and rapidly digitalising markets such as Brazil, China, India and South Africa.”

Barclays also says Estonia “boasts an ambitious and well-funded broadband access policy and comprehensive training programmes, including teacher training”.

Research fellow at the European Commission, Riina Vuorikari, said that Estonia was very advanced in applying digital in public services. “They don’t have the burden of legacy systems, and are doing things that other countries are still talking about and wondering how to do.”


Cover photo by Siiri Lind.

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