NDIA Submits Comments on Labor’s Approach to Digital Skills

The US Department of Labor (DOL) is considering the essential role of digital skills and broadband in the workforce. NDIA emphasized that digital skills are key to digital equity in our recent comments in response to DOL’s Digital Literacy and Resilience Request for Information (RFI).  

To meaningfully advance digital skills, NDIA urged the DOL to collaborate with community experts, invest in digital skills programs, and establish a national digital skill improvement framework. NDIA applauds the DOL for prioritizing digital skills and broadband adoption for the future of the US workforce and society.

NDIA’s comments highlighted models of digital skills programs operating within the framework of holistic digital inclusion strategies. We emphasized five overarching points:

  • Holistic strategies should be prioritized.
  • Digital literacy and resilience are urgently important for adults and youth across their full lifespans and careers.
  • Digital skills are dramatically more relevant and powerful when interwoven with other skills.
  • DOL should capitalize on the momentum of organizations that already have expertise in teaching adults and have earned the trust of key populations.
  • The federal government should better coordinate its investments in digital skills.

NDIA encouraged DOL to ensure educators and digital skills training providers have the following resources: 

  • A national digital skills framework that is updated as technology and its uses changes. Organizations like Northstar are leading in this area, requiring evidence-based training before implementing curriculum. Other well-publicized models of quality training and curriculums for adult and youth learners on digital resilience are DQ Institute, ISTE Standards, and ABE Standards.
  • Funding for holistic solutions – digital skills, appropriate devices, tech support, reliable and robust connectivity
  • Funding to train and support digital skills trainers and digital navigators. NDIA urged the DOL to evaluate and fund promising digital navigator and train-the-trainer models.

NDIA also requested that DOL reconsider the term “digital resilience,” as the term “resilience” historically places the burden of success on marginalized communities rather than identifying and solving systemic problems and celebrating the progress of individuals. It is the responsibility of the systems and programs to be digitally resilient.