Fujitsu Survey Reveals how European Schools are Failing to Keep Pace with Need for Digital Expertise

News facts:
  • Despite the need for digital skills in the workplace, digital literacy is still very limited in schools across Europe
  • Students are acquiring their digital skills outside of school and failing to become proficient in critical areas from digital content creation to data protection and privacy
  • The current approach is failing to prepare school leavers for today’s workplaces – employers report significant gaps in new joiners’ media competencies

Munich, March 31, 2022

While digital fluency is considered a foundational requirement by employers in all industries, this is not reflected in education policy, school equipment and teacher skillsets in most of Europe, according to a first of its kind study1 undertaken by Fujitsu.

Fujitsu commissioned the Program for International Digital Skills Assessment (FIDA) study to evaluate digital literacy today. The FIDA report provides an updated snapshot of the state of digital literacy among school-leavers, since the next state-sponsored PISA study is not due until 2025.

Surprising results: Almost all of Europe is falling behind in teaching digital literacy
The study shows that almost every country has a shortfall in digital literacy in schools. Denmark is the exception, having switched to digital processes very early. For example, 86% of Danish students collaborate online at least once a week, while the figure is only 12% in Germany. The UK, France and Italy also lag. This discrepancy is in part due to a lack of buy in from teachers who do not see the urgent need for digital usage in schools: In Germany, only 9% of teachers “fully agree” to the use of digital media in the classroom, compared to 64% in Denmark.

Consequently, most students acquire their digital skills outside of school. Germany shows the most considerable discrepancy in the use of digital media inside and outside of school – with only 23% using digital media at school but 92% using it for extra-curricular activities.

Digital media does not seem to be a key focus for most schools – with only 16% of teachers in France and 9% in Germany prioritizing its use. Furthermore, when used, digital media is primarily for small research projects or finding specific information online. Key digital skills such as online collaboration are only covered by a minority of academic organizations – just 21% in France, 15% in Italy, 12% in Germany, and 9% in Finland. Regarding teaching responsible internet behavior – only the UK (95%) has a dedicated program. Most other countries like Austria (70%), Denmark (48%), France (70%), Italy (53%), Germany (74%), Netherlands (64%) and Portugal (62%) have room to improve in this area.

Digital infrastructure and teachers’ own digital skills must be prioritized
In France, almost half (48%) of students believe that the country is behind in terms of equipment and digital services in higher education. In comparison, only 20% of students are satisfied with the equipment and services provided by their institution. In Portugal and Germany, approximately 30% of principals consider their available internet speed sufficient. Germans also believe teachers cannot fundamentally effectively teach digital media. School principals across Europe emphasized that teachers must be empowered to share digital expertise and use IT infrastructure across all school subjects – utilizing regular training and strong, long-term partnerships with digital solution providers.

Dr. Christian Swertz, Professor for Media Education at the University of Vienna, comments: “Most initiatives on computer literacy in the European education system focus on how to use computers yet fail to incorporate the more sophisticated skillsets that life and work require today. Education should incorporate the media used in the workplace and aim to empower students to create content – in an interactive, cooperative and individualized classroom.”

Neither students nor employers have confidence in school leavers’ digital skills
The absence of opportunities for students to learn critical digital skills translates into a lack of confidence in their use. While students tend to feel more comfortable leveraging digital media for communication and collaboration, they feel less able in problem-solving or digital content creation. Employers across Europe confirm this shortfall: they report that entry-level candidates generally lack basic digital skills such as creating a presentation, using calculation tables and office software. Potentially more consequential is the lack of competency in data protection and privacy, where more than 50% of companies note that their apprentices have insufficient knowledge.

Christian Leutner, Vice President, Head of Product Sales Europe at Fujitsu, says: “There’s a perception that today’s generations of digital natives naturally acquire the digital skills they need, but our research shows that more formal digital instruction is needed to better equip school leavers for both the workplace and today’s digital society. There is an urgent need to improve on many fronts – from ensuring that schools have the digital infrastructure and expertise they need to support digital media training to expanding and modernizing curricula and upskilling the teachers themselves.”

The Program for International Digital Skill Assessment (FIDA)1, undertaken by Fujitsu, turns the spotlight on digital literacy in European schools today, shines a light on the crucial areas that need improvement, and informs Fujitsu’s support for educational customers, worldwide. Fujitsu brings strong technology partnerships and decades of experience transforming institutions of all sizes – to implement safe, secure and resilient solutions that enable teachers to effectively engage students, at home and in the classroom.

Notes to editors
1 FIDA (Fujitsu Program for International Digital Skill Assessment) is a bi-annual research initiative to determine pupils’ and students’ digital skills needs while delivering valuable insights regarding appropriate measures. FIDA is a meta-analysis: The results were extracted by compiling data from several national studies. In the first step, we investigated the current state of research on media and digital literacy among European students. For this exercise, Statista identified current national studies, surveys, reports and publications and prepared key insights in a digestible way. In addition, multinational studies were included to enable a comparison of the results.

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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 represent a set of common goals to be achieved worldwide by 2030. Fujitsu’s purpose – “to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation” – is a promise to contribute to the vision of a better future empowered by the SDGs.

Fujitsu’s Commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 represent a set of common goals to be achieved worldwide by 2030. Fujitsu’s purpose – “to make the world more sustainable by building trust in society through innovation” – is a promise to contribute to the vision of a better future empowered by the SDGs.

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Date: March 31, 2022
City: Munich