Researchers from St Petersburg University have studied digital competencies of employed residents of St Petersburg. It turned out that 12% of them use drones and manipulating devices at work, and almost one in five knows how to programme. However, the sociologists stress that these figures are not high: not all workers in St Petersburg associate the development of digital skills with career growth, and employers are not in any rush to send their employees for training. Experts at the 5th St Petersburg International Labour Forum will speak about how you should develop your digital career capital in the modern world.

At present, it is difficult to imagine an organisation that does not use digital technologies in one form or another. Moreover, in developing areas, digital tools are practically an integral part of work activities: for example, in the work of a system administrator, designer, content manager, web technologist, director of an online school, and SMM specialist to name just a few. The aim of the research by the sociologists from St Petersburg University and Novosibirsk State Technical University was to study: what kind of skills are used today by St Petersburg residents; whether they want to develop them; and how new trends affect the modernisation of jobs in Russia.

If the majority of employed people use digital tools in their work at the elementary level, then more complex devices (for example: robotics, drones, manipulating devices, etc.) are almost unknown to St Petersburg employees. 88% of them do not use these devices at all. The same situation is with programmable machine tools: 90% of the respondents do not use them at all in their work.

Ruben Karapetyan, Head of the research, expert at the Labour Forum, Associate Professor in the Department of Economic Sociology at St Petersburg University

60% of respondents stated that they use conventional software (office suite) and search engines in their work either constantly or often. Cloud storage, social media and instant messengers are in less demand: no more than 34% of employees spoke about them. The vast majority of the employed residents of St Petersburg uses email (90%). Far less people know how to use professional software (48%) and enterprise management software (33%). Few people use information and analytical software (31%), and only 18% know how to programme. According to Ruben Karapetyan, these data show that the employed population can mostly work with digital devices only at an elementary level, and such digital career capital can hardly be called advantageous.

The sociologists also found a connection between the field of employees’ activities and their digital competencies. For example, multimedia tools are most often used by educators, cloud storage by businessmen, programming languages by freelancers. If we talk about training in this area, then only 38% of those surveyed would like to improve their digital competencies. Their main interests are focused on: Internet marketing; search engine optimisation (SEO); social media marketing (SMM); programming languages; computer design; and studying the legal fundamentals of using data on the Internet.

Employers are generally not in a rush now to send their workers to upgrade their digital skills. In many ways, employees acquire such skills spontaneously; the development of their digital career capital is not a key priority task for them.

Ruben Karapetyan, expert at the Labour Forum, Associate Professor in the Department of Economic Sociology at St Petersburg University

‘This situation significantly complicates technology shifts in working processes, and keeps down workforce productivity and labour incomes. Today, in response to this problem, it is therefore important to consolidate the efforts of all subjects of the labour sphere: the state, employers and trade unions,’ emphasised Ruben Karapetyan.

The development of digital competencies will become one of the topics at the 5th St Petersburg International Labour Forum. It will be held in both Russian capitals in a mixed format from 19 to 23 April 2021. The organisers of the Forum are the government of St Petersburg, St Petersburg University, and the Interparliamentary Assembly of the CIS Member Nations with the support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Federal Service for Labour and Employment of the Russian Federation.

A telephone survey of St Petersburg residents was carried out as part of the project ‘Research in labour competencies in the context of economy and society digitalisation’.