The Netherlands ranks among the EU top in digital skills

© Sjoerd van der Hucht Fotografie
The Netherlands is one of the countries in Europe with the largest share of inhabitants who are proficient in using the internet, computers and software (digital skills). In 2019, half of the Dutch population aged 16 to 74 years had ‘above basic’ overall digital skills, versus an average 33 percent in the European Union. This is the outcome of research conducted recently by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and other EU member states.


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Together with Finland, Denmark and the United Kingdom, the Netherlands ranks among the best-performing countries with the highest percentage of inhabitants who have above basic overall digital skills. This share is lowest in Eastern European countries such as Romania and Bulgaria (10 and 11 percent respectively). Italy, Greece and Poland, too, have much lower scores (around 20 percent) than the EU average in this respect.

Above basic overall digital skills in the EU-28, 2019
Landen% of persons aged 16 to 74 yrs (% of persons aged 16 to 74 yrs)
United Kingdom49
Luxembourg 1)36
Czech Republic 2)26
Latvia 3)24
Italy 4)22
Slovakia 5)
1,2,3,4): Method break 5): No data available

The level of digital proficiency is increasing among the Dutch population aged 16 and 75 years. In 2015, the share of people with above basic digital skills was still only 43 percent. The digital competences of Dutch people have always been higher than the EU average.

Highest level in area of ‘information’, lowest level in ‘software’

Whether a person has digital skills is determined on the basis of his or her performance in four areas. These are information, communication, problem solving skills (computers/online services) and software. In the area of information, the share of Dutch people with above basic digital skills in 2019 was larger (89 percent) than in the other areas. Examples include looking up information on the internet, transferring files and saving photos in the cloud. The EU average stood at 71 percent in this area.

Above basic skills were also shown in the areas of ‘communication’ (e.g. sending emails, making internet phone calls and using social networks) and ‘computers/online services’ (e.g. online shopping, installing apps and taking online courses): 83 and 81 percent respectively. The EU average was 67 percent for ‘communication’ and 59 percent for ‘computers/online services’.

The area of ‘software’ is somewhat more complicated to many Dutch and other European people. In this area, 55 percent of the Dutch population had above basic skills, with the EU average at 41 percent. This subarea includes the use of office software such as word processing applications and spreadsheets. Writing computer programs in a programming language is included as well.

Above basic overall digital skills, component indicators, 2019
VaardighedenNetherlands (% of persons aged 16 to 74 yrs)EU-28 (% of persons aged 16 to 74 yrs)
Problem solving8159

Nearly eight in ten young people have above basic overall digital skills

People’s internet and computer competences vary greatly by age and education. For example, the share of Dutch people exceeding basic overall skills is four times higher among young than among older people. In the group aged 16 to 24 years, 78 percent had above basic overall digital competences. Among the elderly (aged 65 to 74), this share was 18 percent.

Among the highly educated, 68 percent possessed digital skills exceeding the basic level. This is more than double the share among those with a low education level (30 percent).

The digital skills gap is smaller between men and women. The share of men with above basic skills amounted to 54 percent, against 45 percent among women.

Above basic overall digital skills of Dutch people
Vaardig2019 (% )2015 (% )
Total 5043
16 to 24 yrs7871
25 to 34 yrs6657
35 to 44 yrs5850
45 to 54 yrs4837
55 to 64 yrs3028
65 to 74 yrs1812

Digital skills indicators

The survey ‘ICT usage by households and individuals’ was conducted in 2019 among 4,800 Dutch people in the age category 16 to 74 years. Respondents were asked questions regarding activities in the area of internet, computer and software use. Based on these activities and the degree in which they are carried out, indicators for digital skills have been developed such as ‘no skills’, ‘low’, ‘basic’ or ‘above basic’. The same method is applied in all EU countries, which makes it possible to compare the results for the Netherlands at a European level.