Digital technology has permanently transformed our society. Today, 9 out of 10 French users own a device: smartphones, tablets, or computers to connect to the Internet. Faced with this predominance of the digital tool in society and the resulting dependence, 13 million people remain in difficulty with its use. This is called computer illiteracy or digital illiteracy, a phenomenon characterized by a situation in which an adult does not master the usual digital tools to access, process, and act independently in everyday life. A real handicap in our modern society, computer illiteracy affects all sectors but also all social categories and age groups. Even people under the age of 35, often considered « digital natives », are affected by this situation. 

The consequences of digital illiteracy

The consequences of digital illiteracy can be extremely disabling with loss of autonomy and self-confidence, feelings of failure, isolation, as well as exposure to cybersecurity risks. This represents a real problem in a society that is increasingly dematerializing its public and private services.  

Importance of digital skills

More than ever, mastering digital tools is now a key skill in the job market. According to the “France Stratégie” report, 75% of jobs require basic digital skills; This means training is essential. As early as 1987: Solow’s paradox demonstrated that after acquiring computers, American companies did not increase their productivity as much as they had hoped. It is concluded that even with the most efficient tool on the market the results will not follow without the needed qualification to use it. 

This paradox is more relevant than ever since the galloping race for innovation observed in recent years has brought us to such a level of technological advancement; It is becoming increasingly difficult to use new digital tools without a minimum of knowledge. At the same time, however, investment in training has not followed the same inflationary trajectory, making access to digital technology ever more elitist and widening inequalities all the more. This explains why  today we see the emergence of a real trend where French users increasingly seek to hone their skills through self-training. The success of digital training via the new  CPF  underlines this all too well. 

Our observation

As the manager of a company that supports company employees in the adoption of digital tools, I could only note this renewed interest in these trainings, especially since the generalization of teleworking in many companies. Today we train more than 50,000 learners remotely, and we are always surprised at the disparity in levels. 

The digital divide is growing in companies and has even been reinforced by the widespread use of teleworking. Despite the deployment of collaborative tools such as Zoom, Slack, or Microsoft Teams, employees sometimes feel isolated. We can no longer solicit our office neighbor when we encounter a difficulty with software or take advantage of the coffee break to ask questions. In addition, the number of new tools has increased sharply and working methods have had to evolve. Now we must use the new features of co-authoring, document sharing, and give the right permissions, etc. Not everyone has the same ability to grasp these new tools, and this can lead to isolation and a split among the company’s staff itself. 

We are also convinced that supporting individuals is fundamental; This support will undergo more personalization to adapt to the level of each. Individuals are not machines; They must feel free to communicate their difficulties and observe their own progress to acquire more skills. In short, the key is training! 

Laurent Maurer, CEO of Mandarine Academy