New Report defining the concept “Digital excellence” – Digital Spetskompetens

Sweden is aiming at becoming the best in the world in exploiting the opportunities of digitalization, the government’s digitalization strategy says. The lack of digital excellence is said to be one of the reasons why we are lagging behind. But what is digital excellence and how do you get it?
The University Chancellor’s Office (Universitetskanslersämbetet ), together with the Swedish Growth Agency (Tillväxtverket), has been commissioned to analyze and propose how the supply of digital excellence can be developed in the short and long term. Read more here. The assignment includes the development of improved statistics and forecasts of the total need for competence in business and the public sector with the aim of improving the conditions for universities and universities to meet the need for excellence in the short and long term.
However, there is no accepted definition of what digital excellence is. Jan Gulliksen, Åsa Cajander, Arnold Pears and Mattias Wiggberg have therefore had a project funded by UKÄ and Tillväxtverket aiming at developing a definition of the concept of digital excellence. The definition should form the basis for UKÄ and the Swedish Growth Agency’s project.The report was presented at a kick off conference on the 28th of April 2020, and you films and material from the  conference here: The report from that we presented is found here, and below is the executive summary in English. The report and the conference were in Swedish.

Executive summary of the report:

Sweden intends to be the “world’s best in exploiting the opportunities presented by digitalisation”. In this context a shortage of individuals with cutting-edge digital competencies has been blamed for Sweden’s current position in terms of achieving this ambition. This report provides a much needed definition of “digital excellence”, thus, providing an important piece of the puzzle, as Sweden establishes itself as a world leader in digitalisation.

Digital excellence is characterised by the extent to which a person demonstrates:

  • Knowledge of relevant theory and practice associated with the digitalisation of society and related phenomena. Of which the constituents are:
    • general knowledge – possessing a breadth of knowledge including awareness of philosophy, ethics, gender mainstreaming and aspects of the humanities.
    • digital breadth – well developed awareness of computing and systems development concepts and processes (ICT literacy).
    • specialisation – a unique mastery of a specialist area in one or more emerging cutting-edge domains (e.g. quantum computing, AI, expert systems, cybersecurity etc.).
    • domain specific knowledge – in an area where digitalisation is taking place (e.g. healthcare, power generation, transport industries, computer gaming, etc. ).
  • Capacity and capability to apply and develop digital products, and assess their advantages and limitations.
  • 21st Century skills including critical thinking, creativity, collaborative capacity, communication skills, information literacy, media literacy, technological literacy flexibility, leadership, capacity to take initiatives productivity and social skills.
  • Disposition meaning, attitudes, and value systems, commitment to gender equality. professional ethics, and an understanding of the impact of technology on society.
  • Mobility meaning the ability to rapidly acquire knowledge, track change and acquire new knowledge, in conjunction with a motivation to contribute to digital development of society.
  • Reflective insight resulting from active participation in digital transformation.


This definition is based on rapid literature review, which provided an overview of current research that could inform the endeavour. Analysis of the documents resulting from that review contributed to development of a definition that reflects the latest research. Short interviews were conducted in order to capture a range of perspectives regarding digital excellence and cutting-edge skills. These include representatives of industry, the academy, public authorities, who contributed their perspectives and concerns. An analysis of extant statistics allows us to conclude that some aspects of the definition can be associated with existing statistical sources, while other dimensions require new data in order that they be followed over time. A workshop with an external group of experts was conducted to confirm the viability of a prototype of the proposed definition. This workshop provided an opportunity to explore multiple stakeholder perspectives and invite additional external input to the definition process. Design Thinking methods were applied to generate innovative personas with which to characterise how definition might play out in practice. A continuous dialogue with the two relevant reporting authorities ensured the relevance of the result and iterative refinement contributing to a higher quality final outcome.

We conclude with a series of recommendations for future development based on our research, and professional experience. In the development of digital excellence, we recommend that:

Sufficient access to digital excellence is ensured by

  • benchmarking the current situation
  • conducting an overview of life-long learning priorities for universities
  • increasing the volume of shorter, diploma, programmes to increase the availability of digital excellence in the general workforce
  • increase the flexibility of educational offerings in order to create a broader knowledge base for the area.

Equitable opportunity for those aspiring to digital cutting-edge competence is attained by

  • ensuring that equal opportunity and gender mainstreaming are a natural and integrated aspect of future work in this initiative. It is important that this attitude permeates working practice and is given the time and consideration it demands.

Validation and certification of digital excellence is implemented through

  • determining who should be responsible for validation and certification of digital excellence within the Swedish educational system.
  • developing competency frameworks and qualification frameworks to capture data related to relevant workforce human capital not readily identified through academic qualifications, transcripts of results, and other existing data sources.

A “Council for the Supply of Digital Excellence” is created to meet the need of

  • identifying a clear supply and demand profile for the digital excellence workforce creation of a new council is needed. This council should have the responsibility of compiling prognoses and establishing human capital supply profiles.

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