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Employability skills

IT & digital literacy

What are IT skills and digital literacy?

IT Skills

The ability to use computers and software for tasks like word processing, presenting, research, retrieval and storage of information and for communicating.

The above definition refers to the basic IT skills which most employers would expect graduates to be competent with. In certain roles or sectors, they will require more advanced abilities and knowledge.

Digital literacy

Is a more recent concept, and one which incorporates generic IT skills, but is more wide-ranging.  It is something which will become increasingly important the more we rely on technology.

The ability to locate, organise, understand, evaluate and analyse information using digital technology. It involves a working knowledge of current high-technology, and an understanding of how it can be used.


Digital literacy - and IT skills - are not static skills or abilities, but require updating and ongoing learning to stay abreast of new technologies and developments.

Why do employers value IT skills and digital literacy?

Technology is ubiquitous in all areas of life, including the workplace. Used correctly it can improve efficiency and exchange of information, enable businesses to reach wider audiences or customers or manage internal systems and processes more effectively.  Therefore potential employees being familiar with standard software and technology, as well as being comfortable in adapting to new ones quickly, is essential for the majority of employers.

Examples of how IT skills and digital literacy can be developed or evidenced

  • Completing university assignments.
  • Having knowledge of specialist software or more advanced IT skills - e.g. programming or web development.
  • Becoming competent with new software or technology quickly, e.g. in the workplace or as part of your course.
  • Undertaking training or online courses, for example, all University of Leeds students currently have access to over 15,000 courses for free via LinkedIn Learning - see for details
  • You may also be interested in Digital Skills for the Workplace - a free course developed by University of Leeds in partnership with the Institute of Coding