Competitiveness, innovation and job creation in European industry are increasingly being driven by the use of new information and communication technologies (ICT). This must be backed up by a workforce with the knowledge and skills to use these new technologies efficiently. The European Commission works on a number of initiatives to boost ICT skills in the workforce.
The importance of e-Skills for Europe is widely acknowledged. Shortages and mismatches in e-skills, and the resulting digital divide negatively affect growth, competitiveness, innovation, employment and social cohesion in Europe.
As new technologies develop rapidly, the skills required to use them become increasingly sophisticated and need to be constantly updated. Individuals with creativity, innovation and higher-level conceptual skills are increasingly in demand.
Improving the level of e-Skills in the workforce and increasing the talent pool requires action at EU and national level in education, training, research, industrial and labour policies, and also in areas such as immigration and taxation.
The EU’s long-term e-skills strategy, based on the Communication, 'e-Skills for the 21st Century', (see Policy background below), is making progress. There are several visible achievements regarding ICT practitioners in particular.
The initiatives that stemmed from the implementation of the e-skills strategy were financed by the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
New initiatives for 2014-2020 will be financed by the programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (COSME).
The European e-Competence Framework is a reference of 40 skills required in the ICT workplace. It uses a common language for skills and proficiency levels that can be understood across Europe for all types of organisations who need to take decisions on recruitment, career paths, training, or assessment. It was developed by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), which is funded by the Commission.
In order to increase the supply of information and communication technology (ICT) practitioners by 2015 and to ensure there are a sufficient number of skilled people to meet future demand for ICT skills, the Commission launched the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs at the conference on 'e-Skills and Education for Digital Jobs' in March 2013 in Brussels. It is a multi-stakeholder partnership that facilitates collaboration between businesses, education providers, and public and private actors to attract young people into ICT education, and to retrain unemployed people.
As part of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, the Commission organised e-Skills Week in March 2012 to raise awareness of e-skills and the demand for jobs. The week saw 2 235 events taking place in over 37 European countries and involving over 1.8 million participants.
In 2014, a new campaign, 'e-Skills for Jobs' was launched. Its aim is also to raise awareness of the need for citizens to improve their ICT skills for work. The e-Skills for Jobs High-Level Conference and the e-Skills for Jobs Grand Event were organised as part of this initiative. Similar campaigns are planned for 2015-2016.
Actions for the period 2014-2020 will:
The Commission Communication of 2007, 'e-Skills for the 21st Century: Fostering Competitiveness, Growth and Jobs', presented a long term e-skills agenda that included five major EU action lines for the period 2008-2010.
In November 2007, the Competitiveness Council of Ministers subsequently adopted Conclusions on a long term e-skills strategy (388 kB) and the Commission adopted a Communication on e-Inclusion.
Other EU flagship initiatives related to innovation, employment, education and industrial policy also include references to the EU e-skills strategy. These include the Employment Package (2012) and the Digital Agenda for Europe (2010).