Academics and employers’ perceptions of digital skills and competencies

Dr Kwang Meng Cham1, Ms Tania Celeste1, Ms Lisa Kruesi1, Ms Mary-Louise Edwards1, Dr Trent Hennessey1

1The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia


We previously explored students’ digital capabilities. To enhance understanding of the digital intersection between students, academics and their future workplace, we seek to explore academics and employers’ perceptions of digital skills and competencies.


The project aims to understand academics’ and employers’ opinions regarding desirable graduates’ characteristics, and the digital skills requirements to enhance employability.


Academic staff and university alumni were invited to complete an online anonymous Qualtrics survey.


158 academics across 13 disciplines and 37 employers across 20 sectors participated in the survey. Both academics and employers were not confident in creating digital applications and using augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies but reported high confidence in using basic tools and technologies. There is low demand for graduate capabilities in creating digital artefacts, but some understanding in AR/VR technologies is seemed as beneficial. Employers regarded communication tools such as video conferencing technologies are relevant. This echoes the realities of multi-site organisations and flexible working methods.


Higher education institutional structures and systems in partnership with workplace demands are strong drivers for students’ digital capabilities around tools and technologies.


A stronger connection needs to be made between digital skills and employability outcomes. There is a need for Universities to increase awareness, training and support in digital literacy competency.


Dr. Cham is an optometrist and a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne. His educational scholarship interests include using digital technologies for feedback and assessment, interprofessional education and interdisciplinary object-based learning engaging with material culture.

Dr. Cham has received numerous educational research grants and has presented at national and international conferences on the scholarship of teaching and learning. He is currently a fellow of the Melbourne Academy and a member of the Australian and New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators.

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