On 1 December 2016, we launched the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition as one of the ten initiatives in the New Skills Agenda. The Coalition brings together Member States, companies, social partners, non-for profit organisations and education providers who pledge to take action to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.
Until today, 70 partners have already become members of the Coalition and 60 organisations and businesses have pledged action on digital skills. 13 Member States have active National Digital Skills Coalitions, which tackle the digital gaps from different perspectives: from awareness raising to policy making, and by offering training to citizens and the labour force.
This is a good start – but what's next?
As all sectors of the economy are becoming more and more digital, it is essential to re-train the whole European workforce: farmers, bank employees, factory workers and others alike. And that’s urgently needed as today 36% of the labour force has insufficient digital skills.
In 2017, we will therefore get more enterprises outside the ICT sector on board, for example banks and manufacturing companies as well as more school and universities. Together with our partners, we will launch initiatives to train more young people for digital jobs and re-skill workers to ensure they have the digital competences they need to remain productive or to become employable. We will also launch thematic calls for pledges, for instance to get more girls and women into digital or to increase the number of internships.
A joint effort by Member States, stakeholders and social partners
We have called on EU Member States to develop national digital skills strategies by mid-2017 and to create National Digital Skills Coalitions – in countries that do not have them – to implement the strategies. Several new Coalitions are getting started, for instance in the Czech Republic, Estonia or Luxembourg. To support the development of national strategies, the Commission together with Member States finalised a "shared concept" a kind of action plan, in January 2017. The shared concept identifies the main challenges and potential actions to boost digital skills and can be used by countries to develop their own strategies or update existing ones.
How to get workers and employees ready for the digitisation of the workplace is also a top priority for the Social Partners this year, at European and national level alike.
In 2017 we will also deepen our community, involving stakeholders closely in the governance of the Coalition. There will be plenty of opportunities to connect, at the Digital Assembly in Malta in June and in thematic workshops. The community will also be vital for the sharing of best practices which can be copied in other regions or sectors. A database with best practices will go live soon.
Last but not least we will reach out to managing authorities and regions to make sure more European funds are used for digital skills training for citizens, the labour force or teachers.
In 2017, we call on all partners – already active as well as potential ones – to take action to reduce the digital skills gap. We do have a collective responsibility at a time when Europe is – amidst other geopolitical challenges – undergoing a rapid digital transformation of our economy and society.