Digital Literacy in a Digital Age

The first in a series of research papers aiming to help policymakers and other stakeholders understand the growing need for digital literacy in Canada’s workforce
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Digital Literacy in a Digital Age
Annalise Huynh
Alumni, Policy Analyst + Designer
Private: Andrew Do
Policy Analyst

About this Report

This discussion paper summarizes the key issues and questions that crop up in debates about digital literacy. It sets out our initial thinking on the need for digital knowledge and skills, what digital literacy comprises, and a framework for understanding digital skills.

To inform this discussion paper, BII+E conducted an in-depth literature review and jurisdictional scan. We also spoke to policymakers, program delivery experts, and industry experts across the country about the importance of digital skills, trends in education and training, and the challenges associated with equipping the present and future workforce with the skills to participate in an increasingly digital economy.

This discussion paper will be used to test our definition of digital literacy and our framework for understanding digital skills from across sectors. It will also inform consultations with experts on the next steps in our research agenda. This work builds on The State of Digital Literacy in Canada: A Literature Review and is being used to inform BII+E’s Digital Literacy and Coding Pilot.

Read this report to help you:
  • Review our initial thinking on a definition of digital literacy, and a framework for understanding the skills that it comprises
  • Understand the key issues and questions that come up in debates about digital literacy and skills
  • Preview our research plans on the topic of digital literacy

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Key findings from the report:

There is broad recognition that digital technologies are increasingly woven into the fabric of work and daily life, and that this has implications for the skills that Canadians need to participate in the workforce, both today and into the future.

In the next phases of this research, we aim to focus on:
  • Further research to map digital literacy-focused programs and policies that currently exist in Canada, alongside Canadian and international case study research to extract lessons for inclusive digital talent development.
  • A closer examination of data related to the supply of and demand for digital skills across different Canadian occupations and industries. This could include research aimed at quantifying existing digital divides in the labour market. This research will be based on existing data sources and potentially on new survey data.
  • Developing actionable recommendations for all levels of government, as well as private and nonprofit actors to address existing gaps and barriers to digital literacy in Canada.

Deep Dive

5 Results


Feb 25, 2019

As we move into our second year of the pilot, find out what we’re learning along the way in our latest quarterly update, from female participation rates to flexible learning practices, and more
Illustration of three people coding together on a big screen.

Oct 1, 2018

With several successful cohorts behind us across our 5 sites, find out what we've learned so far and where our digital literacy + coding pilot is headed
Illustration by Katie Hicks of three adventurers in a town.

Apr 9, 2018

Canadian youth must have access to an “updated” education and training to join a rapidly changing labour market. For most, that means being digitally literate.
Illustration of computer monitor surrounded by productivity symbols on green background.

Mar 22, 2017

Supporting inclusive economic growth means increasing access to digital literacy, especially for youth who are currently underrepresented in the STEM fields
Illustration of two workers giving presentation in front of screen.
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