The European Commission has set out steps to improve digital skills in Europe, which are the cornerstone of a truly functioning digital society and Digital Single Market. These steps were outlined in the New Skills Agenda for Europe: working together for human capital, employability and competitiveness, adopted recently by the European Commission.

Graphic showing a car mechanic and a PC connected to a car

Its purpose is to improve the quality of skills development, make skills and qualifications more visible and comparable and improve skills intelligence for better career choices.

In the future all jobs will require digital skills, and despite continued high levels of unemployment there could be 756 000 unfilled jobs for ICT professional by 2020.

Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, said: "There is a clear and urgent need to boost digital skills. Our Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is not only about filling existing jobs. It is also about the many new jobs that a truly functioning Digital Single Market will create."

Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition

The Commission will address digital skills and learning with the new Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition initiative. It calls on Member States to develop comprehensive national digital skills strategies by mid-2017 on the basis of targets set by the end of 2016. It also invites Member States to establish national digital skills coalitions, involving governments, businesses, as well as education, training and labour market stakeholders. In addition, it calls for concrete measures to bring digital skills to all levels of education and training, supporting teachers and educators and promoting active involvement of business and other organisations. At the same time, the Commission calls on Member States and stakeholders, including social partners, to pledge action that supports life-long learning and to identify and share best practices, so that they can be more easily replicated and scaled up.

To help people make informed career and learning choices, the Commission will also improve skills forecasting and analysing skills needs. Web crawling tools and the analysis of big data will improve data on skills needs and trends, including on digital skills, while evidence from different sectors will be sought. Likewise, the Commission will continue monitoring progress annually through its Europe's Digital Progress Report (EDPR).

EU funds supporting digital skills development

The Commission will improve the dissemination of information about available EU funds (European Structural and Investment Funds, Youth Employment Initiative, Erasmus+) and explore possible funding opportunities, for example through voucher mechanisms. It will also improve information about potential synergies with national funds.

The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition initiative will be reinforced by the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills also foreseen in the new Skills agenda. Supported by EU funds, the Blueprint seeks to improve skills intelligence and tackle skills shortages, including digital skills deficiencies, in six economic sectors: automotive, defence, maritime technology, space, textile and tourism. Other sectors may join in future.

Background

The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition builds on the success of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs and the EU eSkills strategy and is developed in coordination with the work under Education and Training 2020. Today's announcement kicks off a countdown towards the official launch of the new Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition at a conference in December 2016. Between now and then the Commission, together with stakeholders, will organise a series of preparatory events to prepare the ground for the rollout of the initiative. We welcome all stakeholders to flag their interest to be a part of this joint effort.

In 2013 the European Commission launched the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs to address a lack of digital skills in Europe. This multi-stakeholder initiative has so far attracted around 60 pledges, from over 100 stakeholders, to undertake concrete actions to reduce digital skills gaps in Europe. It has also raised political awareness and support for these issues, which in 13 countries led to the setup of national coalitions. The Grand Coalition, together with the 13 national coalitions, has led to the training of an estimated over 2 million people since the initiative's launch in 2013. One of the most important achievements is that it helped to break down silos in the area of digital skills development and make collaboration happen, especially between governments, education and industry. Although more needs to be done to ensure cooperation among diverse stakeholders, the Grand Coalition has certainly been a stepping stone towards this direction.

As part of its strategy for a Digital Single Market, the European Commission supports EU Code Week and other independent initiatives such as the European Coding Initiative All you need is {C<3DE} which aim to boost digital skills, including coding, for different target groups.

 

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