Twenty-first century digital skills for the creative industries workforce: Perspectives from industry experts


  • Ester van Laar
  • Alexander J. A. M. van Deursen
  • Jan A.G.M. van Dijk
  • Jos de Haan



Human capital, 21st-Century skills, Digital skills, Workforce, Creative industries, Interviews


The creative industries workforce requires employees that use ICT applications to solve the knowledge related tasks at work. The aim of this research is twofold: (1) to see if previously cited twenty-first century digital skills are suited to the creative industries workforce and (2) to investigate the extent to which skill development get attention in current organizational practices. In-depth interviews were conducted with a sample of 24 managers and senior executives of creative organizations based in the Netherlands. As a guideline for the interviews, a conceptual twenty-first century digital skills framework was used. This framework presented the following seven core skills supported by the use of ICT: technical, information management, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving. The following five contextual skills that play a role when using ICT were also presented: ethical awareness, cultural awareness, flexibility, self-direction, and lifelong learning. The results support the importance of twenty-first century digital skills, however, there seems to be insufficient attention to the levels of these skills; they play a minor role during the selection and evaluation procedures. Often it is assumed that existing digital skills are sufficient. Managers are encouraged to improve on developing requirements necessary for future employees as well as measurements to ensure current employees skill levels. The developed framework might be used as a management tool for indicating skills that need to be assessed among professionals working in the creative industries.

Author Biographies

Ester van Laar

E. van Laar, MSc. Ester: PhD student at the University of Twente. Her research focuses on defining and measuring levels of 21st-century digital skills among employees in the creative industries. The PhD project is part of an interdisciplinary research project 'e-skills, key to 21st-century labor'.

Alexander J. A. M. van Deursen

A.J.A.M. van Deursen, Dr. Alexander: Associate Professor of Communication Science at the University of Twente. His main research lines are: digital inequality, digital skills to participate in the information and network society, and digital skills for 21st century labor. Alexander van Deursen maps barriers of online skills and engagement and explains differences in the outcomes that people get from engaging with digital content.

Jan A.G.M. van Dijk

J.A.G.M. van Dijk, Prof. Dr. Jan: Professor of Communication Science at the University of Twente. His chair is called The Sociology of the Information Society. He is investigating the social aspects of information and communication technology. Jan van Dijk is Director of the Center for eGovernment Studies at the same university

Jos de Haan

J. de Haan, Prof. Dr. Jos: Professor of ICT, Culture and Knowledge Society at Erasmus University Rotterdam and a senior researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP) in The Hague. His present research focuses on the diffusion, use and consequences of new media.




How to Cite

van Laar, E., van Deursen, A. J. A. M., van Dijk, J. A., & de Haan, J. (2019). Twenty-first century digital skills for the creative industries workforce: Perspectives from industry experts. First Monday, 24(1).