Digital proficiency continues to rise

© ANP / Rob Engelaar
Internet, computer and software competencies have increased among people aged 12 and over. In 2023, nearly 80 percent of them had at least basic digital skills, up from 74 percent in 2021. Dutch citizens are most proficient in online communication and least in using software. This is evident from the survey on ICT usage among households and individuals held by Statistics Netherlands (CBS), which is conducted in the same way in all EU countries.

Overall digital skills
NLBasic skills (% of people aged 12 yrs and over)Above basic skills (% of people aged 12 yrs and over)

This survey is carried out annually from April to July inclusive. Approximately 6 thousand people aged 12 years and older participate in the survey.

Whether a person is digitally proficient is determined on the basis of the number of activities reported in five areas: digital information literacy, online communication, computers and online services, privacy protection, and use of software. For each area, people may have so-called basic digital skills, or above basic digital skills.

A person has above basic overall digital skills if this applies to all five areas (composite score). In 2023, 50 percent of the Dutch population had above basic digital skills, up from 48 percent in 2021.

Most skills in online communication

In online communication, which includes sending and receiving emails, making calls over the internet, participating in social networks and expressing opinions on social or political issues online, 95 percent had above basic skills. In 2021, this was 89 percent. This is higher than in the other areas.

In digital information literacy, such as searching for information online, reading news sites and identifying fake news, 88 percent of people aged 12 years and over had skills beyond the basic level. For using computers and online services, such as shopping online, installing apps, or taking an online course, this was 82 percent.

Above basic overall digital skills, component indicators
Vaardigheden2023 (% of people aged 12 yrs and over)2021 (% of people aged 12 yrs and over)
Information and
digital literacy
Computers and
online services
Privacy and
Use of software62.461.0

Dutch people least skilled in using software

In the area of privacy protection, 74 percent of the Dutch population had above basic skills; This is higher than in 2021 when it was still 67 percent. In using software (i.e. using programs for word processing and creating spreadsheets, and writing computer programs using code), it was 62 percent, which was the lowest of the five digital skills areas, equal to 2021.

25 to 44-year-olds most digitally proficient

The extent to which individuals are skilful in using the internet and computers varies greatly by age and education level. For example, the share of Dutch people with above basic skills (total score) was more than twice as high among 25 to 44-year-olds compared to 65 to 74-year-olds and four times as high compared to those aged 75 years and over. Relative to 2021, the share increased in the 12 to 24, and 55 to 64 age groups.

Above basic overall digital skills
Kenmerk2023 (%)2021 (%)
(12 yrs and over)
12 to 24 yrs57.853.1
25 to 34 yrs65.263.9
35 to 44 yrs64.362.6
45 to 54 yrs55.355.0
55 to 64 yrs46.942.6
65 to 74 yrs28.927.6
75 yrs and over15.011.6

Education level and digital skills

Among people with a higher vocational education (HBO) or university degree, 70 percent had digital skills exceeding the basic level. This share is more than twice as high compared to those with at most a prevocational secondary education (VMBO) diploma (29 percent). The share of men with above basic skills amounted to 53 percent, versus 47 percent of women.

Own perception of digital proficiency

People who score high on the composite score (total score) of digital skills, when asked, also consider themselves very skilled at searching and arranging things online. This also holds true for people who say they usually solve a problem themselves by using a computer program or app; they are more digitally proficient than people who usually or always ask someone for help when facing digital issues.

Dutch and Finnish people most digitally skilled in 2021

In 2021, together with Finland, the Netherlands had the largest share of inhabitants aged between 16 and 75 with at least basic digital skills, at 79 percent. In 2023, this had increased to 83 percent. This means the Netherlands has already achieved the European target of at least 80 percent basic digital proficiency by 2030.

Overall digital skills in the EU-27, 2021
LandenBasic skills (% of people aged 16 to 74 yrs)Above basic skills (% of people aged 16 to 74 yrs)
Source: CBS, Eurostat