CXO

Two-thirds of US jobs created after 2012 require strong digital skills

Digitalized jobs are associated with more pay and protection from automation. But they require high- or medium-level digital skills that can be difficult to attain.

The US economy is digitizing at an extremely rapid pace, as digital technologies have diffused into nearly every industry and transformed many jobs, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

The Brookings Institution analyzed changes in the digital content of 545 occupations covering 90% of the US workforce across all industries since 2001.

Jobs that require high-level digital skills jumped from 5% in 2002 to 23% in 2016, the report found. Those mandating medium-level digital skills rose from 40% to 48%. And those requiring low-level digital skills fell greatly, from 56% in 2002 to 30% in 2016.

Specifically, 30% of the nation's 13 million new jobs created since 2012 have required high-level digital skills, the report found. And nearly two-thirds of new jobs mandated either high- or medium-level digital skills.

SEE: Research: Automation and the future of IT jobs (Tech Pro Research)

While virtually all industries saw increases in digitalization in the time frame studied, the degree and speed of digital adoption varied widely. The sectors leading the digitalization race include professional, scientific, and technical services, media, and finance and insurance. Those lagging behind include education, transportation and warehousing, basic goods manufacturing, and construction.

Digitalization is associated with increased pay and job protection in the face of automation, the report found. Job growth in high-digital level jobs—such as those in computer science, business, and finance—has been rapid. However, this is also the case for low-digital level occupations, including personal care and food preparation. Middle-digital occupations, such as administrative and education jobs, saw much slower job growth than the other categories.

The mean annual wage for workers in high-level digital positions hit $72,896 in 2016, whereas workers in middle-level digital jobs earned an average of $48,274, and workers in low-level digital occupations earned an average of $30,393.

The findings also echo previous reports regarding automation and the potential for job loss, by placing low-digital jobs at the most risk: Nearly 60% of low-digital positions are susceptible to automation, while only 30% of tasks in high-digital occupations appear to be so.

"Digitalization is vastly expanding the potential of the economy, and generating opportunities for many," the report stated. "However, the construction of an inclusive labor market as digitalization proceeds won't happen by itself."

Organizations must adopt new initiatives to improve workers' access to relevant digital skills, the report stated. This includes working on expanding the high-skill IT talent pipeline, and expanding basic digital literacy, particularly among underrepresented groups, the report advised.

Want to use this data in your next business presentation? Feel free to copy and paste these top takeaways into your next slideshow.

  • US jobs that require high-level digital skills rose from 5% in 2002 to 23% in 2016. Those that require low-level digital skills fell from 56% in 2002 to 30% in 2016. -The Brookings Institution, 2017
  • 30% of the nation's 13 million new jobs created since 2012 have required high-level digital skills. -The Brookings Institution, 2017
  • Nearly 60% of low-digital positions are susceptible to automation, while only 30% of tasks in high-digital occupations appear to be so. -The Brookings Institution, 2017
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Image: iStockphoto/littlehenrabi

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About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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