Digital Skills for a Future-Ready World

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What Digital Skills Do Canadians Need for a Strong Post-Pandemic Recovery?

The Conference Board of Canada, on behalf of the Future Skills Centre, is conducting a study on the digital skills Canadians need for a strong post-pandemic recovery. We want to better understand digital skills so that our workforce and communities can grow and succeed in an increasingly digital future.

Insights from this project will …


Define digital skills and learn about where and how they’re used.


Establish where digital skills gaps exist by region, sector, and industry.


Identify the tools and training required to best respond to these gaps.

The Digital Push of the Pandemic

Our world has become more and more digital in recent decades. Prior to the pandemic, the pace of digitalization was consistently increasing with the non-stop introduction of new digital tools and technologies.

The pandemic hit, and that pace accelerated even more.

Many aspects of our lives underwent rapid digitalization. How we work and learn were especially impacted. For many, these aspects of our lives became more virtual than ever before.


  • Online learning for post-secondary education isn’t new. However, the public health crisis in Canada pushed kindergarten classes online—something we haven’t seen before—in many regions.
  • Working from home was happening well before March 2020. With the onset of the pandemic, entire companies went virtual to keep their workers safe. Overnight, organizations and employees were forced to learn how to collaborate through virtual telecommunication tools.

The Result

Canadians performed well.

Wherever possible, companies and schools made the pivot to virtual. Our success in this shift is largely due to Canadians’ resilience and their existing digital skills.

Yet, calls for a better grasp of the digital skills Canadians need to succeed and thrive in the workforce of tomorrow continue.

A Strong Recovery

Even before the pandemic, Canadian employers reported difficulties in finding workers with the rights skills to keep up with advancements in technology.

Yet, the breakneck speed of the digital revolution is unabated.

We need to keep up.

In doing so, we can equip workers with the skills needed to navigate virtual workplaces and leverage digital tools and technologies to increase efficiency and productivity. This can help position Canada for a strong post-pandemic recovery, keeping our businesses strong—and in turn—our communities thriving.

But how?

A Moving Target

Unlike other skill types, such as math or reading, digital skills are tougher to nail down. That’s because the digital tools that largely dictate the types of skills we need are always evolving.

Understanding digital skills can be like chasing a moving target.

It’s tough to have a clear grasp of the exact digital skills a person needs because skill needs are dependent on things like where they work, where they live, and their career goals. Not to mention, the digital skills one may learn to use a specific technology can quickly become out-of-date as a new, more efficient tool comes along.

Here’s the puzzle:

We know that digital skills are essential for a strong post-pandemic recovery. But we don’t have a clear picture of the exact digital skills that Canadian employers are looking for. We also don’t know where the digital skills talent gaps are across different sectors, industries, and regions.

We need to understand these gaps so we can respond with the right tools and training.

Mind the Gap

Inclusion and equity are critical in discussions about digital skills for Canadians’ success at work for a strong post-pandemic recovery.

Though digital technologies can increase organizational capacity and productivity, inequitable access to these technologies or to the infrastructure to allow their use can leave people behind. For instance, rural and remote communities in Canada with limited or no access to broadband Internet face considerable barriers to being able to participate in and benefit from the digital revolution.

Being aware of and finding ways to respond to the digital divide in Canada will be an important part of this study.

Building a Digitally Skilled Workforce

We will conduct 20+ interviews with leading Canadian employers and sector organizations representing some of Canada’s largest industries. We want to hear directly from them: How has the rapid pace of digitalization changed the workplace? What digital skills do people need to succeed in your industry?

To build on these findings, we will also survey Canadian skills leaders from across the country to learn more about how they define digital skills, the digital skills gaps they see in their communities, and the best ways to respond to current digital skills gaps.

Our work will help Canadian schools, organizations, workers, job-seekers, and employers better understand the digital skills that are needed to succeed in the post-pandemic era.

A digitally skilled workforce is a resilient workforce.

FSC partners

Toronto Metropolitan University
The Conference Board of Canada
Government of Canada

The responsibility for the findings and conclusions of this research rests entirely with The Conference Board of Canada.