| News | Press release | “bidt-Digitalbarometer.international”: Germany lags behind in digital skills

“bidt-Digitalbarometer.international”: Germany lags behind in digital skills

According to the “bidt-Digitalbarometer.international”, Germany has comparatively weaker digital skills among European countries. The recently published study highlights that the digital divide is more evident in Germany. Age and gender are more significant in determining digital skills than in any other country.

  • First edition of the “bidt-Digitalbarometer.international” published.
  • The study is a follow-up to the “bidt-SZ-Digitalbarometer” published in 2022, allowing for a comparison of Germany with six European countries.
  • Between 1,157 and 1,734 people were surveyed in Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, and Spain.
  • Topics: User behaviour and e-government, digital skills, digital transformation of the work environment, and artificial intelligence (AI)
  • The survey was conducted between November 2022 and January 2023.
  • Germany is at the bottom of the league regarding digital skills and e-government but shows a positive assessment of AI and the opportunities of digitalisation for companies.

The “bidt-Digitalbarometer.international” is a collaboration between the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the SZ Institute of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. In 2022, the “bidt-SZ-Digitalbarometer” was released with results for Germany, and further representative surveys were conducted in six European countries between November 2022 to January 2023. This allows for a comparison of Germany with Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, and Spain. This helps to better understand developments and challenges, and identifies areas for action in shaping the digital transformation.

Finland ranks highest in terms of digital skills, Germany and Spain at the bottom of the rankings

With an average score of 55 out of 100 points, the population in Germany and Spain are in the bottom group with regard to digital skills; both countries are well behind the front-runner Finland (63 points). Digital knowledge and competence in Germany are more dependent on socio-structural factors than in other countries.

In Germany, people aged 65 and above have the lowest digital skills in international comparison. In addition, those with lower incomes and women in particular fall behind the corresponding groups of people in the comparison countries, in some cases significantly. This means that the digital divide is particularly pronounced in Germany.

Deficits in further education and training and in public administration

In terms of digital skills, employees in Germany appear to be lagging behind their counterparts in other countries. They also report a lack of training and development opportunities related to digitalisation. In smaller companies with up to 49 employees, only 36 per cent rate their employer’s digitalisation training as very good or rather good, compared to 61 per cent in the UK.

Germany also has the lowest percentage of people who have completed an administrative process online (excluding tax returns), which is attributed to the limited availability of digital administrative services. Additionally, other countries outperform Germany in the use of medical and therapeutic services, as well as online applications.

Confidence in digitalisation and artificial intelligence

Besides the deficits in digital transformation in Germany, the “bidt-Digitalbarometer.international” also reveals positive aspects. Germans are more confident when weighing up the opportunities and risks of digitalisation. Thus, 65 per cent of the employees in Germany tend to perceive digitalisation as an opportunity for their company. Such a high value is not achieved in any other country of comparison.

81 per cent of Germans state they know at least a little about artificial intelligence (AI), second only to Finland (82 per cent), and well ahead of bottom-ranked France and Spain (61 per cent).

Respondents from Germany are more likely to see opportunities in the use of AI for autonomous driving and disease detection compared to other European countries surveyed.

More opportunities are needed to participate in digital transformation

“Germany is often perceived to be a laggard in terms of digitalisation in the international arena.”, says Roland A. Stürz, head of the think tank at bidt and of the study.

Our study indicates that this issue is widely acknowledged. More than 61 per cent of people in Germany – more than in any other of our comparative countries – think that too little attention is paid to digitalisation in their country.

Dr. Roland A. Stürz To the profile

To ensure that Germany remains competitive in the digital age and doesn’t fall behind economically and socially, it is important to strengthen the participation of society as a whole. The study authors suggest several ways to achieve this, including consistent education programs like making computer science a nationwide subject, offering more incentives for individuals to pursue continuing education, and facilitating access to such opportunities.

Furthermore, the digitisation of government services needs to be accelerated, with a stronger focus on the user perspective. The rapid pace of development of AI should be taken into account with a flexible regulatory framework that limits possible risks but does not unduly restrict the potential for innovation.

Dr. Roland A. Stürz

Head of Think Tank, bidt

Christian Stumpf

Researcher Think Tank, bidt

Antonia Schlude

Researcher Think Tank, bidt

Ulrike Mendel

Researcher Think Tank, bidt

Danilo Harles

Researcher Think Tank, bidt


Press contact

Dr. Margret Hornsteiner

Head of Communications and Dialogue, bidt

Enquiries about the study

Dr. Roland A. Stürz

Head of Think Tank, bidt