Digital skills, or eSkills, are of great importance in order to function in present and future society. The increasing interest in ICT in our society and economy is forcing us to reconsider how we think and use our abilities. Whether we are civilian, consumer, patient, employee, entrepreneur, official, caretaker: in short, it includes everyone and in all sectors.

Published Thursday, 17 March, 2016
Updated Thursday, 17 March, 2016

EU-statistics show that at least 100 million EU-citizens have insufficient digital skills and therefore are at risk of becoming socially and economically excluded. Think about making and maintaining online social contact, communication with the government, but also finding the right information and products. This group will increasingly have less chance of finding work, because in lots of traditional ‘non-ICT-professions’, from caretaker to mechanic and teacher to shop assistant, you will need digital skills. In fact, without these abilities, I believe it is impossible to gain and maintain access to these types of jobs and with that, the related critical and creative thinking and the ability to communicate and work well together.

As Digital Champion for The Netherlands I stand for the idea that corporate life, social organisations and government have to work closely together to permanently (re) educate young people and the work force. The European Commission promotes the European Get Online Week and that excellent initiative is widely supported in The Netherlands. It is a good moment to reflect with 24 (!) countries on how we can awaken and support its citizens to gain more digital abilities. Every country in its own way and in line with its own culture but, where possible, learning from each other.  

In The Netherlands we do so this year by creating a door-to-door-campaign in which wehope to reach three million households for the Digitaal Hulpplein. This digital platform offers 500 local practice locations with free office hours and courses as well as a telephone helpline and a test to assess the state of your digital skills. However, alsothroughout the year The Netherlands will continue paying attention to digital literacy at various levels. We are again in full preparation for CodeWeek, that is expanded in The Netherlands as a follow-up to MakerWeek; creating things and understanding it by using the latest technology and continuing with the campaign Geef IT Door where, in 2016, Dutch IT professionals are committed to personally enthuse at least 3000 students for working with and within IT.

The Get Online Week is an excellent moment in Europe to collectively pay attention to enhancing the eSkills of various groups in our economy and society. In The Netherlands we are working on a new eSkills movement, within governments, the corporate world and social organisations, to eventually come to a broader coalition with activities that contribute to this initiative.