Europeans need the right skills to get the most from the digital economy and single market. Let's get people online as much as possible.

The internet revolution and the technological advances that come with it show no sign of slowing down.

This is the digital age. It brings its own challenges, not least the skills needed to survive and get ahead in the modern workplace.

Demand for digitally competent professionals across all economic sectors continues to grow and is outstripping supply.

As a sector, ICT is growing rapidly and creating about 120,000 new jobs each year. But due to differences in demands and skills, and despite high unemployment - especially among the young – Europe could face a shortage of up to 900,000 skilled ICT workers by 2020.

Nearly 20% of Europeans have never used the internet. Estimates show that around 40% of people in the EU workforce do not have adequate digital skills; 14% have no digital skills at all.

It is a real cause for concern. Europeans need the right skills to take part in the digital economy and get the full benefits from the #DigitalSingleMarket that we plan to build.

It is not just about reading and writing any more. These days, in order to succeed and take off in a career, you need digital skills as a basic.

There are many young people who use the internet on a daily basis but do not have the full skills needed to convert this interest into an actual job.

For some years, the European Commission has been working to reverse this trend, by encouraging young people to take up ICT-related careers, and particularly women, who are very under-represented at all levels in the ICT sector in Europe.

Initiatives like the EU Code Week, European Coding Initiative and the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs aim to empower everyone and raise Europe's "digital competence", by addressing the general lack of digital skills and the many thousands of unfilled ICT-related vacancies across all industry sectors.

Today sees the start of Get Online Week, an annual event that is part of the European e-Skills for jobs campaign. It aims primarily to help young and unemployed Europeans get the e-skills they need needed for the 21st century workplace.

But it will also focus on other groups like graduate job-seekers, the disabled and elderly, and people coming from rural or disadvantaged areas. The idea is to target more than 50,000 Europeans directly and to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Most of the activities will be run in local community centres, telecentres, ICT learning hubs, public libraries, schools, universities – depending on each of the 24 countries that will be involved this year.

The aim is not only to raise awareness about the skills gap and related employment opportunities but also to attract first-time computer users to the online world.

Events like Get Online Week are a great way to promote tech as a career. They are also about informing, encouraging and empowering people to do so – actively and directly.

This is essential given that in the near future, 90% of jobs - in careers such as engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, art, architecture, and many more - will require some degree of digital skills.

Please check out the website, tweet about the campaign and the various events being held around Europe this week. Let's support the initiative and get more people taking part in this vibrant sector to keep it as competitive as we can.

Another blog soon.


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