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European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery]

Speech by Vice-President Ansip on the launch of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition

Brussels, 1 December 2016

Speech by European Commission Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market

Ladies and gentlemen, 

A warm welcome to everyone here today to launch the next stage in our campaign to raise and improve digital skills in Europe. 

We have been waiting for this day for some time. 

Digital skills are at the heart of the new Skills Agenda for Europe that the European Commission published in June. 

Not before time, digital skills are now recognised as basic skills, along with literacy and numeracy.

They are also the basis for a functioning digital society and Digital Single Market. 

It is one thing to have modern technology and modern communications.

But it is quite another to develop the right skills to use digital technologies and then apply them in a working environment. 

There are many young people who use the internet daily - but do not have the full skills needed to convert this interest into an actual job. 

And this is despite high youth unemployment and despite our known lack of ICT professionals to fill several hundreds of thousands of vacancies. 

Everyone here today is familiar with the skills challenge that Europe faces as the world goes increasingly digital. 

That in itself is having a huge impact on the labour market and the type of skills needed in our economy and society. Digital advances are changing the structure and nature of employment as we know it today. 

Some jobs are being replaced thanks to digital technology.

New ones are also being created by it.

Some of these we cannot imagine - because they do not yet exist. 

Europe's workforce needs the skills to match and to keep up with these changes.

No other investment will bring a higher return for society. 

We all know that this is not only about filling existing jobs.

It is also about making sure Europe has enough digitally skilled workers to fill the many new jobs that the Digital Single Market will create.

Demand for ICT professionals is growing by about 4% a year. 

In the near future, most jobs - in careers such as engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, art, architecture, and many more - will require an increasing degree of digital skills. 

They have become a basic requirement for people to get ahead in society as well as in the modern workplace.

We have known this for some time, which is why the Commission has been working steadily with campaigns such as the eSkills strategy, Coding Week and the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. 

But we cannot do this alone, not even by working with national governments.

No single public authority, business, trade union or education provider can achieve the necessary modernisation by itself. 

What we need now is a broader, more inclusive and pan-European effort.

That is what the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is all about.

You will be hearing more details about it throughout the day. 

This launch event builds on our existing work to develop and expand a large pool of digital talent in Europe, particularly the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the companies involved in the Grand Coalition for their significant commitment and investment over the years.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The new coalition being launched today recognises that the need to improve digital skills is a challenge faced by all of us, and by all the European Union. 

From the large businesses that use digital technologies to become more connected, competitive and productive – to the smallest and most innovative web entrepreneurs. 

Some countries are more advanced in their digital transformations.

Others are lagging more behind. That is normal.

What is important it that all of them are on the same digital path. 

It also means that we will be more effective if we work together in our approaches. 

Digitisation will transform every economic sector, from transport to telecom equipment, from factories to farming. It is doing so already. 

This is how Europe can stay competitive, grow and prosper.

Digital skills are the starting point to make it happen. 

I wish you a successful and productive conference and launch

SPEECH/16/4203

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