Having a digitally skilled workforce is a crucial part of our Digital Single Market project. Building a digital economy and society is not only a challenge when it comes to regulation and developing new technology: it is also about empowering people by equipping them with adequate skills to cope successfully with the digital revolution. We need to address the social and human aspects of digitisation and close the increasing digital skills gaps that hamper growth and innovation.
That is why in June we announced the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition as part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe. It is a European multi-stakeholder effort to take on the digital skills challenge. We must improve the current situation of high unemployment combined with unfilled vacancies due to the lack of people with adequate digital skills. This is not only a problem for the ICT sector: jobs that have traditionally not been seen as part of the digital economy will increasingly include tasks that are carried out with the help of digital tools and will therefore demand digital skills. Already today, 70% of all jobs require at least moderate levels of digital skills. We are facing a challenge to up-skill and re-skill our current workforce and modernise education to ensure that Europeans are employable and equipped for the future.
To achieve quick results as well as long-term sustainable solutions, the public and private sector have to make a joint effort. This will encourage all stakeholders to take action against the growing digital skills gaps. The response so far has been impressive: companies in a variety of sectors have already come forward to join the Coalition and make pledges even before the initiative is officially launched today.
One important aspect is education: ICT in the classroom, combined with appropriate skills and educational resources, can increase quality and efficiency in training. New accelerated programs like the Generation Initiative in Spain or "Code For All" in Portugal provide opportunities for unemployed people, or people who need a career change, to significantly improve their digital skills after only a few months of training. Or take for instance the company ESRI that has pledged to offer free software, initially to 300 schools in ten EU member states by the end of 2017. This is just one example of many promising actions by companies and other organisations that will be part of the Coalition.
Some actions to address our skills issues will take place in Brussels. However, in the spirit of subsidiarity the great majority will need to be taken at the national, regional and local level throughout Europe. Thirteen Member States have already set up national coalitions and more are planned. This year we have worked with governments in the Member States to lay the foundation for national digital skills strategies all over Europe.
Tomorrow, together with Member States, companies, social partners, NGOs and educational establishments, we are officially launching the Coalition, including its Member Charter and pledges by new members. We will also announce the winners of the European Digital Skills Award 2016 and present a common concept for national digital skills strategies and new actions by organisations to tackle digital skills gaps. I encourage all of you to participate in this effort: its success will depend on all of us joining forces to take action.
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