PhD Studentship: Digital Literacy Skill Requirements for New Employees and its Relation to Productivity in the Scottish Economy

Edinburgh Napier University

Edinburgh Napier University is ranked the top modern University in Scotland in the 2022 Times World University Rankings. The School of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment is highly regarded and has invested recently heavily in research in terms of both staff and facilities to conduct world class research in a wide range of disciplines.  

In the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), our research was ranked top modern university in Scotland in terms of research power. 


Digital Literacy Skill Requirements for New Employees and its Relation to Productivity in the Scottish Economy

Director of Studies: Dr David Haynes ([email protected] )

Funded PhD Project (Worldwide)

Digital literacy is one of the key skills needed by all levels of workers in the 21st century economy. Growth sectors such as renewable energy, software development, finance and the health sectors make particularly strong demands on digital skills in addition to the traditional reading, writing and maths skills.

The research will investigate the level of digital literacy demanded by employers and the supply of skills among those entering the workforce. An analysis of job advertisements will be followed up with interviews with recruitment professionals in a sample of industries in Scotland. The researcher will also examine the digital literacy skills of apprentices and college leavers entering the workforce, starting with an examination of the digital skills elements of their qualifications.

The study will compare approaches to digital literacy in the workforce in Denmark, a country with a similar population to Scotland, but a more productive economy. Evidence of the effect of digital literacy skills will come from the comparative study and will look at school leaving qualifications, post-school qualifications, employer demands and skills development in the workplace (work-based learning and apprenticeships).

The research aims to address the following questions: What is the level of digital literacy of individuals entering the workforce? What are employers’ perceptions of digital literacy requirements? What are the gaps in digital literacy of entrants to the workforce? How does the support available to develop digital literacy skills impact on productivity?

The research will inform skills development policy in Scotland. The comparative study will also identify examples of implementation that will contribute to improved prospects for those entering the workforce and enhance national productivity.

Academic qualifications

A first degree (at least a 2.1) ideally in information science or social informatics with a good fundamental knowledge of digital or information literacy.

English language requirement

IELTS score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 6.0 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualification will be accepted. Full details of the University’s policy are available online.

Essential attributes:

  • Experience of fundamental information science
  • Competent in qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Knowledge of economics
  • Good written and oral communications skills
  • Strong motivation, with evidence of independent research skills relevant to the project
  • Good time management

Desirable attributes:

  • Openness and adaptability and ability to interact with employers, employees and apprentices.

For enquiries about the content of the project, please contact Dr David Haynes directly ([email protected]

For information about how to apply, please visit our website

To apply, please select the link for the PhD Computing FT and specify this project title on the application form.

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