Eurostat: Romania is last in the EU for digital competencies

Almost half of Romanian citizens, aged 16-74, were reported to have low digital skills last year, and only one tenth of the population had above-basic digital skills. Romania ranked last in the EU per these competences, a Eurostat report shows.

According to Eurostat, composite indicators are used to measure digital skills, based on selected activities in four areas related to the internet and software: information, communication, problem solving and software skills. The indicators look at people aged 16-74 performing these activities. It is assumed that those individuals who have performed a given activity have the corresponding skill.

According to the variety or complexity of activities performed, two levels of skills (“basic” and “above basic”) are computed for each of the four dimensions. Finally, based on the component indicators, an overall digital skills indicator is calculated to reflect individuals’ digital competencies and skills: “no skills,” “low,” “basic” or “above basic.”

According to the report, 43 percent of Romanians, aged 16-74, had low digital skills in 2019; the country stood in last place in the EU. Bulgaria ranked next to last with 38 percent.

Every year, the number of people with low digital skills is increasing in Romania. In 2015, only 29 percent of the population had low digital skills, but this then grew by 3 percent in the following two years, reaching 35 percent by 2017 and now standing at 43 percent. Last year, the lowest percentage of people with low digital skills in the EU was registered in the Netherlands (16 percent). The EU average was 29 percent, 14 percent lower than in Romania.

Per the percentage of the population with above-basic digital skills, Romania also ranked last in the EU, with only 10 percent. The average rate in the EU was 31 percent.

Fortunately, the number of people with basic or above-basic digital skills is increasing: from 26 percent registered in 2015 to 28 percent in 2016, then hitting 29 percent in 2017 and finally 31 percent in 2019.

Peoples’ level of digital skills is directly related to where they live in Romania, meaning that people living in rural areas had the lowest rate of digital competencies. Skills were higher in small towns and the highest in big cities.

During the PISA tests of 2018, Romania was the only EU country, in a small group of eight states, that supported the paper-based test over the digital one. Moreover, the digital competencies test during graduation exams (those taken at the end of high school) are mostly paper-based as well. At the exam, the students work 15 minutes only on the computer and spend 75 minutes writing on paper about their digital competencies. For students, the percentage of those who have basic or superior competences is 29 percent, Eurostat reports.

Title image: Digital skills are related to the environment in which citizens live. Shutterstock

Author: Orsi Sarány