The I-LINC Monitor is an overview that focusses on the important policies that took place in 2016 on digital skills and jobs. The aim is to assist readers and familiarize them with the EU level policies and strategies, that are relevant to the work of stakeholders and that influence national level strategies.
Almost half (45%) of the EU population aged between 16 and 74, has insufficient digital skills, based on 2015 Eurostat data, while technology literacy, capability and skills have become more critical for all industries.
Today’s companies transform themselves through technology, to networked models that are more flexible than the old ones. Technology has changed the relationship between companies and customers through social media and platforms. Today’s workforce should be equipped with the necessary digital skills to respond to the current digital labour market. Consequently, nowadays employability and entrepreneurship are inextricably linked with digital skills.
Actions proposed by the New Skills Agenda for Europe
New Skills Agenda For Europe is one of the major initiatives in the Commission Work Programme 2016, which focuses on skills, considering them as a pathway to economic welfare and employability. It presents a number of actions to ensure that people in the European Union will have the necessary support to be equipped and trained with the right skills in order to improve their everyday lives and make better career choices.
The Agenda aims to support Member States in their national reforms and seek for a common commitment to make changes in areas that are important to the EU, such as improving the quality and relevance of skills formation, making skills and qualifications more visible and comparable, as well as, improving skills intelligence and information for better career choices.
In its New Skills Agenda for Europe, the Commission encourages all Member States to set up national coalitions in order to develop national digital skills strategies by mid-2017. Therefore, the initiative Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition was launched with a purpose for actions to be carried out in EU member states by national coalitions to tackle the digital skills gap. The Coalition promotes the necessity and the importance of digital skills for all citizens and in ICT professionals in Europe, as well as, in education and life-long learning, including the training of teachers.
All organisations, groups, business and government bodies are welcome to join the coalitions in order to boost digital skills in their countries. The Coalition among others encourages members to develop strategies, identify challenges and shares effective digital skill initiatives. Ιt is worth mentioning, that 16 finalists were selected and four outstanding projects were awarded during the first European Digital Skills Awards in December 2016.
It is a fact that many Europeans struggle with basic reading and writing calculation or using digital tools, therefore they face difficulties to adapt themselves to society and are more likely to deal with social exclusion, poverty and unemployment. Digital competences are significant expedient to increase citizen’s participation in society, hence Upskilling Pathways, as a main legislative proposal of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, stresses among others the necessity of digital skills in employability and entrepreneurship in Europe.
Upskilling Pathways aims to support adults, who may be employed, unemployed or dealing with economic problems, to achieve a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills, as well as, to broaden them. The initiative’s structure includes three steps. In the first step, skills assessment, adults identify their existing skills and needs for upskilling. In the second step, the adult receives a learning offer based on the initial assessment. This offer is designed to boost literacy, numeracy or digital skills or allow progress towards higher qualifications aligned to labour market needs. Thanks to the third step, validation and recognition, the participant is enabled to get the new skills validated and recognized. The delivery of Upskilling Pathways builds on structures already in place in member states. The European Commission supports member states in building this initiative into their systems through a variety of funding instruments.
The necessity to improve Europeans e-skills also was reflected by the development of DigComp 2.0 (The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens). DigComp 2.0 is a tool aiming to improve citizens’ digital competences to acquire a key set of competences, which will be valuable to develop their personal skills and participate actively in the society.
DigComp 2.0 is an updated version of DigComp, which was published in 2013 and used as a reference in many digital competence initiatives by the European Institutions and Member States. Τhis updated version reflects today’s reality and focuses on the conceptual reference model, new vocabulary and streamlined descriptors and also provides useful examples on how DigComp was implemented at the European, national and regional levels. Overall, DigComp sets up a common reference framework at European level by using a common language to identify and describe the key areas of digital competence.
The link between digital skills and labour market is given, since technology is essential in all fields of our lives. The e-Skills Manifestos were developed to build an e-skilled workforce that could respond to today’s needs. They aim to bridge the gap between the needs of today’s societies for digital transformation and the skills, and technical know-how, and capability of the workforce.
The five e-Skills Manifestos present concrete ideas proposed by key leaders in government, education, policy, research and industry. Moreover, the need to invest in education, as well as, to increase the attractiveness of the ICT careers is stressed. They also highlight the importance of boosting the collaboration between Academia and ICT industry and the promotion of the European standards for certification.
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