Research & Consulting: Digital Learning and Work

Exploring technology attitudes and personal–cultural orientations as student readiness factors for digitalised work
April 17, 2021

Exploring technology attitudes and personal–cultural orientations as student readiness factors for digitalised work

This article, produced in the context of a two-year cross-cultural digital-education project, explores the attitudes and orientations of students toward the emerging world of digitalised work. Digitalised work is defined as activity systems that deploy ‘smart systems’ in which humans and machines form tight physical, sensorial and cognitive partnerships to achieve productive outcomes with a high degree of efficiency. In digitalised work, decision-making control tends to be (re)distributed between human, machine and human-machine hybrid entities, each of which contribute to the successful functioning of an activity system. Seminal insights grounding this study is that, across sectors, work is being fundamentally restructured and attitudes toward technological systems will predict a human’s ability to adapt and flourish in their professional life.

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Blayone, T. J. B., Mykhailenko, O., Usca, S., Abuze, A., Romanets, I., & Oleksiiv, M. (2020). Exploring technology attitudes and personal–cultural orientations as student readiness factors for digitalised work. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, ahead-of-print(ahead-of-print). https://doi.org/10.1108/heswbl-03-2020-0041

Abstract

Purpose – Emerging forms of digitalisation are placing newdemands on workforce entrants around the globe. This study, catalysed by innovation programs in Ukraine and Latvia, conceptualises, measures and compares key facets of dispositional readiness of university students in two post-Soviet nations for digitalised work. Methodology – Survey data, addressing technology attitudes and personal–cultural orientations (PCO), were collected by project teams at universities in Ukraine and Latvia and delivered to the authors for analysis. The authors defined three characteristics of digitalised work, conceptually positioned five of the measured constructs as readiness factors and generated readiness profiles for the two national student cohorts. Investigation of significant differences between the groups was conducted using an Independent Samples T-Test. A composite profile was produced for comparing the overall dispositional readiness of both groups for digitalised work. Findings – The factor-level profiles showed similar patterns of dispositional alignment and misalignment with digitalised work. For example, technology optimism and learning interest were reported by large percentages of Ukrainians and Latvians and tolerance for unstructured work by small percentages. However, significant differences were found in group levels of technology optimism, technology anxiety, ambiguity intolerance and empowered decision-making. In each case, the Ukrainian profile appeared more strongly aligned with the target. Practical Implications – The global digitalisation of work requires students, educators, human resource professionals and business leaders to rethink workforce readiness assessment and adapt (re)training programs. Technology enthusiasm and learning interest should be regarded as crucial measurable attitudes motivating technical skills development. Also, cultural orientations should be positioned alongside personality traits and digital skills as factors shaping successful human–computer interaction. Originality – This study initiates a new sociotechnical and cross-cultural trajectory of technology readiness research from data generated in two post-Soviet contexts. Moreover, it positions several measurable dispositions as factors influencing student readiness for digitalised work.

Keywords

Workforce readiness; Readiness for digitalised work; Technology attitudes; Information technology; Cultural orientations

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