Sometimes my job comes down to a question of numbers. 23 million people are unemployed in the EU today, almost 7% of the working age population. But, in five years' time 825,000 jobs may be unfilled, simply because employers cannot find people with the right digital skills. The answer is glaringly simple, Europe needs to get serious about digital skills, for each and every person, and each and every business to thrive in our digital economy and society.

Between 10-18 October, in Germany, all over Europe and even beyond, hundreds of thousands of children and adults will be learning how to create with code. EU Code week ambassadors and hundreds of volunteers are bringing coding to the fingertips of kids, parents, adults, workforce, teachers. They are inspiring kids, companies, unemployed, students, ICT experts, parents, teachers, programmers and policy-makers to look behind the screen and make a game, an animation, a website or an app, to become "creators" or "makers" in the digital economy.

Most importantly, EU Code week is helping to develop computational thinking: step-by-step analysis, breaking up a problem in bits and pieces, abstraction, generalisation, adapting an idea and using it for something else. All these skills are essential for future jobs.

Many companies such as Facebook, Liberty Global, Microsoft, Samsung, and SAP, and NGOs like CoderDojo, Code.org and European Schoolnet are involved in EU Code Week through the European Coding Initiative and their commitment to the European Commission's Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs.

As part of the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission supports EU Code in a very practical sense by helping 40 EU Code Week ambassadors to get together in Brussels, and by spreading the word through social media and our networks in Member States. We will use our powerful funding and policy tools to address digital skills and training, in particular through the EU's skills strategy, coming early next year.

In the long run, we need to get digital skills on the educational agenda and bring coding and computer science the classroom. This is something for the Member States and the Commission challenged them to encourage access to programming for young learners in our Communication on Opening Up Education. In the meantime, I will continue to explain to national decision makers why digital skills, and basic coding skills, are essential and why we need a European approach.

Coding is the new literacy, but just as not all become concert pianists if they take piano lessons, or racing drivers when they get their driving license, not all who learn programming will become programmers. And they don't need to – but some of the mystery of how it works behind the screen will have been revealed.

 

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