Action 66: Member States to implement digital literacy policies

What is the problem? 30 % of Europeans are digital illiterates

150 million Europeans have never used the internet. This group is largely made up of older people or people on low incomes, the unemployed, immigrants, and the less educated and at risk of social exclusion in general. In many cases the take-up gap is due to a lack of user skills, such as digital and media literacy and competences.

Why is EU action needed? By enhancing digital literacy these disadvantaged groups will be empowered to overcome social exclusion, contribute to economic growth and fully participate in and engage in the digital economy and society.

By developing and enhancing digital skills, all EU citizens, and in particular groups at risk of socio-economic exclusion (e.g. elderly, jobless, immigrants, marginalised youngsters, women returning on the job market, etc), which add up to some 30% of EU population (150 million people), will be able to participate on a more equal footing in the digital economy. They will have better job prospects, and enjoy higher opportunities for learning, creating, participating and being confident in the use of digital tools, media and related content (e.g. using services and tools made available by eLearning, eGovernment, eHealth).

80% of social services are delivered locally by public administrations (regions, municipalities, etc.) and often by the third sector. The availability of ICT-skilled intermediaries, such as public officials, social workers, volunteers, home carers etc is fundamental for an effective and sustainable service delivery.

Development of curriculae and certification of skills of such intermediaries will allow the formal recognition of de-facto professions and enhance job creation, especially in local markets.

As a specific problem, the EU economy is hampered by a shortage of ICT practitioner skills: Europe risks not being able to fill as many as 700,000 IT jobs by 2015.

What has the Commission done?

  • Development of Digital Competences Framework linked to European Qualifications Framework
  • Creation of multi-stakeholders platform ("DAE Big Idea 2")
  • Creation of a multi-stakeholder sectoral Council for ICT Skills and employment
  • Within the EC R&D and innovation deployment programmes (FP7 ICT and CIP ICT-PSP), a number of activities and pilots addressing e-inclusion and ICT skills and competences for intermediaries (including social carers) have been launched.
  • The "European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion" flagship, promotes the inclusion of ICT skills and competences as a priority for the next ESF (European Social Fund 2014-2020).
  • The Commission's Employment Package (adopted April 2012) addressed the potential of, and underlined the need to focus on, digital literacy and e-skills to create jobs and aid employability.
  • Development of Digital Competences Framework for all levels of education, linked to European Qualifications Framework and Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning (2006)