IT Skills and Employment Opportunities for Workers

This study examines the effect of Information Technology (IT) skills on employment opportunities of workers. We use household IT use surveys in an emerging economy (Turkey) from 2007-2012 that include detailed data on IT skills, IT access, and IT use at the individual worker level. We integrate these data with a household labor force survey that provide information on the workers’ occupations, industries, and job search methods. The results show that IT skills are associated with a higher probability of employment for workers, on average, and this relationship varies by occupations and key demographics. We find evidence that IT skills complement occupations that involve non-routine tasks that cannot be executed by pre-determined rules more than occupations that are characterized by routine tasks. Notably, we find a significantly stronger relationship between IT skills and employment probability for women and older workers, groups that traditionally suffer from high unemployment rates. The results are robust to alternative specifications and robustness checks. By investigating the relationship between IT skills and employment for workers across occupations and socio-economic groups, we provide implications for designing IT policies to stimulate employment, particularly for traditionally disadvantaged socio-economic groups, such as women and older workers, and occupations that involve non-routine tasks and are likely to benefit from IT skills.