The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is one of the ten key initiatives proposed by the Commission under the New Skills Agenda for Europe, presented in June this year. Today a series of partners, including over 30 organisations and groups such as European Digital SME Alliance, ESRI, SAP, ECDL and Google are pledging to further reduce the digital skills gap as part of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition. The Commission calls on more stakeholders to join the Coalition and endorse its Charter. Members of the Coalition commit to tackling the skills gaps at all levels, from high-level ICT specialist skills to the skills needed by all European citizens to live, work and participate in a digital economy and society. This is both crucial for European industry to remain competitive in the face of rapid advances by its competitors, and for European society to remain inclusive in the digital age.
Andrus Ansip, Vice-President for the Digital Single Market said: "Allowing more people to develop digital skills is like giving a ticket to the digital economy. We cannot build the Digital Single Market in Europe without addressing the digital skills gap. The launch of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a milestone in our joint effort to increase everyone's digital skills in Europe."
Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society added: "The lack of digital skills is already hampering innovation and growth in Europe. Not just for ICT companies but for organisations in all sectors – private and public. We must remove this obstacle to make sure Europeans get the jobs they deserve and our businesses have access to a large pool of digital talent."
Digital skills involve a number of abilities citizens can rely on, ranging from finding information online and sharing online messages to creating digital content such as coding applications. Europe is lacking digitally skilled persons to fill job vacancies in all sectors, missing out on up to 750,000 Information and Communication Technologies(ICT) professional jobs by 2020. Yet unemployment among young people of 15-24 year olds is at almost 20% in the EU. More than a third of the labour force and, more broadly, around 45% of European citizens have no more than basic digital skills.
Today's launch event in Brussels is attended by Vice-President Ansip, Commissioner Oettinger and Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, responsible for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport together with Alexander De Croo,Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium.
Commissioner Oettinger also awarded the four winners of the Digital Skills Awards 2016.
Partners to boost digital skills
The new Coalition builds on the work of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, the eSkills for Jobs campaign and Education and Training 2020. Since 2013, the Grand Coalition has led to the training of more than 2 million people in digital skills through over 80 supporting organisations and led to the setting up of 13 national digital skills coalitions in the Member States.
Three new national coalitions are about to be launched, in the Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia and four more are in the making. The aim is to have national coalitions in all Member States by 2020.
It is expected that by 2020 these combined initiatives will:
- Train 1 million young unemployed people for vacant digital jobs through internships/traineeships, apprenticeships and short-term training programmes.
- Support the upskilling and retraining of the workforce and in particular take concrete measures to support SMEs who face specific challenges in attracting and retaining digital talent as well as retraining their workforce.
- Modernise education and training to provide all students and teachers with the opportunity to use digital tools and materials in their teaching and learning activities and to develop and upgrade their digital skills.
- Reorient and make use of available funding to support digital skills and carry out awareness-raising about the importance of digital skills for employability, competitiveness and participation in society.
The Commission will support the work of the Coalition by coordinating the activities at EU level, facilitating partnerships and supporting the exchange of best practices.
New Skills Agenda for Europe
The Skills Agenda for Europe sets out ten concrete initiatives to improve people's skills and their relevance for the labour market, in cooperation with Member States and stakeholders. Three of these - the Skills Guarantee (renamed "Upskilling Pathways"), the proposal for the revision of the European Qualifications Framework and the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills - were adopted by the Commission in June 2016. The proposed revision of the Europass Framework was adopted in October 2016. On 5 December 2016, Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility will launch European Vocational Skills Week. During this week, a range of events in Brussels and Member States will be organised to improve the attractiveness and image of vocational education and training. The remaining actions under the Skills Agenda will be launched during 2017: the revision of the Key Competences Framework, the Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals, further analysis and sharing of best practice to tackle brain drain, and a proposal to track the labour market outcomes of graduates.
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