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Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda
Poland first to launch national digital jobs coalition under European umbrella
Polish Coalition for digital skills /Warsaw
3 July 2013
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Ladies and Gentleman,
Thank you for inviting me. And thank you for taking part so actively in the EU's Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. In fact this is among the first "national coalitions" launched under that framework. And I hope it won't be the last.
For any politician today, the main priority has to be dealing with high unemployment. Far too many people are out of work; including 5 million young people. And those aren't just people missing out on jobs. They are missing new opportunities, on getting their own place, on starting their own family. In short, they are missing out on life chances.
In that context, boosting digital skills is essential. It helps people find the jobs available: and remember that, in our digital age, almost one million ICT jobs risk going unfilled. It helps our economic competitiveness, ensuring our economy continues to create jobs into the future. And it is well suited to the young generation, of digital natives.
We can't do this alone. Not in the European Commission. Not even with national governments. That's why we've launched a coalition: to work with public authorities, education providers, employment services public and private, IT companies and more.
Sharing and joining is what we need in Europe – I don’t want to see people just trying to protect their own kingdom. That is a losing game. So I am excited that the people from this Polish Coalition are looking upwards and outwards and running this together with the Ministry.
First, we can ensure people know that ICT careers are an attractive career option. Today, many don't even realise that. Especially, I'm sorry to say, women.
Second, they need basic ICT training embedded in their education. Because those fundamental digital skills are like reading and writing – essential for almost any job today, and certainly for ICT jobs.
Third, they need somewhere to train. Not just in some faraway university, but close to home.
Fourth, once they are finished with their training, they need employers to recognise and reward their skills.
And finally, they need to be where the ICT jobs are. Including, if it's needed, to move to another EU country. And that should be straightforward to do – after all, that's what the EU is all about.
That's quite a shopping list. And I think it's clear why we need a coalition to achieve it. We can't do this alone. But, to quote someone else determined to create jobs, together, yes we can.
Already today we have dozens of commitments to our coalition. Clear pledges for new platforms, new programmes, new partnerships to help us plug this skills gap.
Coming up with those pledges takes work. To take the initiative, come up with new ideas, find new ways of working together.
But really, making pledges is the easy part. The really hard work is in achieving them. With a long-term commitment to concrete change.
So you have a lot to do. We all have a lot to do.
But if we do it right, the benefits are huge. This is not just about the million jobs we can fill. It's about all the many millions that we can create, if we deliver a digital Europe. Because ICT can transform almost every economic sector, from transport to television. From the large businesses that can use ICT to become more connected, more competitive, more productive. To the smallest, most innovative web entrepreneurs. And everyone in between. This is fuel to power our economy.
Human capital is absolutely essential to a competitive continent. But it is not the only thing we need: we need physical capital too. The fast broadband on which so much innovation and so many tools depend. From connected cars to connected TVs; from videoconferencing to virtual universities. They all need broadband networks, fixed and mobile, that are fast, reliable, and pervasive. And at the moment Europe doesn't have them; not like we need. That is why I am determined to bring down barriers for telecommunications in our single market. So every European can enjoy the benefits of a connected continent: innovative tools over fast networks; fairer prices with fewer borders; roaming charges that disappear as the borders do; an Internet that is open and secure. That's what all our workers and all our innovators need and deserve.
So I wish you all the best with this great national coalition. I hope it will inspire others. At a time of crisis, we have to grab every opportunity on offer. The fact is, to do anything less is to seriously let down our people. And seriously let down our future.
Europe needs to face the 21st century: I am going to be fighting like hell to ensure we have the digital skills and networks to do so. I hope you can support me in that fight.