Vilnius, 7 November 2013
Kroes applauds launch of Lithuanian National Digital Coalition
Vice-President Neelie Kroes welcomed the commitment of the Lithuania's government educational, library and digital and ICT sectors to boost digital skills and jobs in Lithuania. Today, 11 partner organisations and associations signed a Memorandum of Understanding officially launching the Lithuanian National Digital Coalition in Vilnius at ICT 2013, Europe's largest digital innovation event. The Lithuanian Coalition aims to reduce the shortage of IT professionals, to encourage training programmes via a life-long learning approach, and to augment awareness about the importance of digital literacy and ICT skills.
The MoU was signed by Rimantas Sinkevičius, Lithuania's Minister for Transport and Communications and representatives of the Lithuanian Municipal Public Libraries Association, the ICT Association Infobalt, Vilnius University, Association "Langas į ateitį", Lithuanian Computer Society and ECDL, National Association of Distance Education, Lithuanian Computer Science Teachers Association, Kaunas University of Technology, the Ministry of Education and Science, and Ministry of Social Security and Labour, (see annex for details).
Neelie Kroes said "I am certain that the Lithuanian Coalition will become an inspiring model for other member states. There is huge commitment from the partners and strong political support in Lithuania and at EU level. The Coalition has a huge task, and I encourage them to look into using the structural funds, particularly the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative to bring digital skills to Europe's lost generation."
Europe's digital economy is growing and we rely on digital tools and processes in our daily lives, but this vast potential is hampered by a massive digital skills mismatch. In Lithuania, as in many other EU countries, the number of ICT graduates is falling while businesses and organisations are crying out for ICT specialists. In 2015 there could be as many as 900 000 unfilled vacancies across the EU unless the trend is reversed.
The Commission launched the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs to tackle this problem in March 2013. Lithuania is the second EU country to formally launch a national coalition, after Poland which launched its own Coalition in July 2013 (see SPEECH/13/598). Similar national or local coalitions are also being developed in about 10 member states. So far 41 public authorities, education providers, employment services public and private, IT companies and other organisations have pledged support to the EU-wide grand coalition.
The digital skill crisis was also discussed by EU leaders at the European Council on 25-26 October 2013. In particular, the Council called for the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs to be strengthened so it can help address skills mismatches by supporting targeted labour mobility schemes and the use of the newly developed classification of European Skills/Competences, Qualifications and Occupations
The Commission is leading a multi-stakeholder partnership to tackle the lack of ICT skills and the several hundred of thousands of unfilled ICT-related vacancies. Since its launch in March 2013, the Grand Coalition has grown to 41 pledges representing an array of stakeholders from industry, education, the non-profit sector and local initiatives. Recent new pledges largely focus on youth employment, such as YouRock, a new online professional network for young people across Europe, which will enable them to use their existing online content creation activities as evidence of their latent business skills and other aptitudes, hence increasing their competitive edge and visibility in the labour market. Another one is Getbusy.gr, a joint effort by Greek industry, educational and training institutions, start-ups and HR agencies, aiming to train 12,500 young people by 2014 in Greece, increase their entrepreneurial skills as well as their learning about new technologies. As a result it will help to fight rampant youth unemployment in the country.
The Lithuanian Digital National Coalition was launched at ICT 2013 – Create Connect Grow, Europe's largest digital innovation event organised by the European Commission in partnership with the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2013.
For more information
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The National Coalition is set up by the following organizations: