Digital Skills and Older Workers

Research Report

Digital Skills and Older Workers

Supporting Success in Training and Employment in the Digital World

Abstract

The acceleration of the shift to online and remote learning and working brings new opportunities, but it also brings the potential for further inequities in the labor market. Older workers stand to benefit greatly from the expanded access that online and remote learning and working provides. This report documents some of the barriers and opportunities that exist for older workers accessing online programs, with a focus on their digital skill levels. We analyze data from the 2017 Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies survey to explore the digital skill levels of older workers and how older workers’ characteristics are associated with digital skill levels. We also analyze American Community Survey data to understand how older workers’ poverty status and access to broadband, internet, and computers and other devices is associated with digital skill levels. Our analysis is complemented by information collected during interviews with leaders of programs to support digital skill training for older adults. We find that although many Americans lack digital skills, older Americans have lower levels of digital skills than the average American, and digital skill levels for older Americans from historically oppressed groups are lower still. There are opportunities to support the development of digital skills for older workers to allow them leverage their other skills and improve economic outcomes. 

Cross-Center Initiative

To reuse content from Urban Institute, visit copyright.com, search for the publications, choose from a list of licenses, and complete the transaction.