The Dutch remain EU leaders in digital skills

According to a recent survey, the Netherlands is number one across all 27 EU countries for digital skills. The survey, conducted in 2021 by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and Eurostat, places the Netherlands in joint first place with Finland. Its rankings commended Dutch digital literacy based on individuals’ and households’ use of the internet, computers and software – and not for the first time. The Netherlands has consistently ranked highly in previous surveys, making the top three in each count since 2016.

A nation of digital communicators

The results show the Netherlands to be digitally literate far beyond the European average. In 2021, the survey shows, nearly 80% of the Dutch population aged 16 to 74 had basic or above basic overall digital skills, compared to an average 54% across the EU. This puts the Dutch nearly ahead of the European target of 80% basic proficiency by 2030. Compared to Finland, tied with the Netherlands for first place, more Dutch participants indicated above basic proficiency.

This figure is especially high (93%) when it comes to communication and collaborative skills. The Dutch showed extremely high proficiency with tasks such as sending and receiving emails, making internet phone calls, participating in social networks and expressing opinions on social or political issues online. Scores nearly as high were given for information and data literacy skills and problem solving with digital tools.

Digitally skilled workforce and consumers

This high level of digital proficiency makes the Netherlands an ideal place for digital businesses for both recruitment and research. A tech-savvy population makes for a rich pool of talent for innovative companies across many sectors. In the Amsterdam Area, this especially benefits regional pioneers in the fields of sustainable fashion, smart mobility, talent, food and agritech, and life sciences and health – besides the obvious benefits of superior communicators as employees in any business. But digital literacy among consumers also makes the country and region a fertile testing ground for new digital solutions and products, of all kinds.

Yet, the Netherlands is not resting on its laurels when it comes to digital training. Dutch and Amsterdam-based initiatives such as the Human Capital Agenda IT are further improving training, reskilling and development of digital skills across the country. Other existing regional initiatives for IT education have been scaled up since the start of the pandemic, such as Make IT Work, originally pioneered by the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Amsterdam’s many other digital education offerings, including programmes and platforms such as TOMAS and TechGrounds (in Dutch), are leading the way in educating and employing more talent in tech and IT.

A leader in digitalisation and infrastructure

The news will also come as no surprise to those following the Netherlands’ consistently high ranking for digitalisation more widely. Last November, the EU’s annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) ranked the Netherlands fourth among all EU countries for the fourth year in a row. Digital skills have consistently supported the country’s repeatedly high ranking, along with ongoing national efforts such as the Dutch digitalisation strategy and the foresight report ‘Digitalisation 2030’ (in Dutch).

Also continually contributing to its inhabitants’ excellent digital skills is the world-leading digital infrastructure in the Netherlands and especially Amsterdam. Around 99.5% of Dutch households will have access to at least 100 Mbps by 2023, and the country is steadily working towards its aim to become the European leader in 5G – already ranking second. Amsterdam in particular has a long history of world-leading connectivity and internet culture, and one of the most important internet exchange points in the world: AMS-IX.

In combination, these factors make the Netherlands – and the Amsterdam Area in particular – a perfect breeding ground for innovation in business and tech. From its digitally literate citizens to the thriving digital industries it fosters, Amsterdam continues to boost the Netherlands’ appeal both as a leader in digitalisation and a home for digital innovation and entrepreneurship.

Read more about how Dutch digital skills and infrastructure make the Amsterdam Area an attractive option for tech companies. In addition to its thriving startup scene, innovative spirit and high quality of life, the region is a popular choice for technically minded and digitally trained talent.