The European Commission has adopted the amended Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Telecom Work Programme 2019-2020. It will continue to support the development of the European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform and National Coalitions, as well as new learning opportunities in artificial intelligence.

The Connecting Europe Facility Telecom supports digital service infrastructures that will help to bridge the digital skills gap in Europe. In the amended 2019-2020 Work Programme, CEF Telecom presented a new action for the development of learning opportunities and the related call for proposals is now open for applications. In total, the amended 2019-2020 Work Programme dedicated additional €11.5 million for actions in the domain of digital skills and jobs.

New learning opportunities

The shortages of experts with advanced digital skills, in particular in Artificial intelligence (AI), could slow down Europe’s economic growth and impact competitiveness. In the Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence, Member States and the Commission have acknowledged the need to train more people who can enable the deployment of AI throughout the economy.

As a follow-up action, CEF Telecom will support the design and delivery of Master programmes in artificial intelligence. Elements of these courses will be then available online on the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform. This call is open to consortia of tertiary education institutions alongside excellence centres and relevant industry partners. The total budget is €6.5 million for two Master programmes and the deadline for submissions is 12 May 2020.

European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform

The amended CEF Telecom Work Programme 2019-2020 also confirmed the funding for the development of the European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform. This user-centric one-stop shop will provide information, data and resources on digital skills and jobs from all over Europe. It will be a single point of access to activities for digital skills development in different Member States and it will also facilitate a deeper understanding of digital skills needs in the EU.

The Platform will also serve as a tool for members of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and other stakeholders to network, exchange information and collaborate on common initiatives. The launch of the Core Service Platform is scheduled for late 2020. It has now secured funding for 2 years (€4 million in total from the 2019 and 2020 budgets) and the call for proposals closed in February 2020.

The Platform’s Generic services are funded by grants. 11 National coalitions applied to the first open call with the total budget of €1 million. The call closed in November 2019 and the evaluation results are expected in Q2 2020. The second call for the National Coalitions and networks of actors is scheduled for end of June 2020 with a total budget of €2.5 million.