How important are IT skills for professional success?

The professional skills that young people acquire during their vocational training, especially in the IT field, influence their success in their professional life, for example in terms of salary or how easily they can find a job. This project examined the correlation between skills and success in the labour market.

  • Project description (completed research project)

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    The research team identifed the various skills that young people acquired during their basic vocational training and classified them according to categories. The main focus was on IT skills, and how these interacted with other skills acquired during professional training. They first analysed the curricula of the various vocations. Then the team searched these text documents using computational linguistic methods, with the aim of identifying identical skills across various professions. In a second step, they applied statistical methods to investigate how the skill categories identified in this way influence the long-term labour market success of graduates in the respective jobs.

  • Background

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    Several studies have already investigated whether IT skills increase the prospect of such things as getting a well-paid job. However, these reports are few in number and the results are contradictory. Moreover, it is was not clear which computer skills students need in order to be successful in the labour market, and which additional abilities were required in combination with these computer skills.

  • Aim

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    The research team, led by Prof Ulrich Kaiser, systematically documented the skills taught during vocational training. Subsequently, they investigated how specific IT skills correlated to the professional development of individuals, e.g. in terms of salary, employment prospects or mobility, also in interaction with other professional skills and abilities.

  • Relevance

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    The reaserchers sought to identify skill sets that were particularly valuable in the light of increasing digitalisation. The theoretical findings of the project benefit individuals, and are also useful for future policy decisions. They can serve as a foundation for evidence-based policy recommendations and instruments.

  • Results

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    Three main messages:

    1. There are two different types of IT skills: Generic IT skills, for example handling data, and expert IT skills, such as programming languages. These two types have different effects on labour market outcomes.
    2. General IT skills increase the adaptability of specific employees.
    3. For the training of specific workers, decision-makers should discuss the inclusion of general IT skills in the curricula.
  • Original title

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    Long-Term Effects of IT Skills in Vocational Education - Learnings from Past for Future Digital Transformations