Latvia ranks 18th in Human Capital out of 27 EU Member States in the 2022 edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), with a score of 44.1. Latvia is only slightly below the EU average as regards both basic and above basic digital skills. 51% of the population aged 16 to 74 has at least basic digital skills and 24% has above basic digital skills, against the respective EU averages of 54% and 26%. 3.8% of employees are ICT specialists but 48% of companies that hired or tried to hire digital experts report difficulties in filling these vacancies1. Nevertheless, the percentage of graduates studying ICT in Latvia remains significantly higher than the with 4.6% of ICT graduates in the country against 3.9% in the EU. The country also performs relatively well as regards the share of women in its ICT specialists’ workforce – 23%, against 19% at EU level.
The 2021-2027 Digital Transformation guidelines issued by the Latvian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development in 2021 establish the development of digital skills as a national priority, aiming to achieve the Digital Decade targets.
Latvia has a National coalition for digital skills and jobs – eSkills Partnership –it was established in March 2013 by a joint initiative of LIKTA (Latvian Information and Communication Technology Association) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Since 2022, the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia has assumed the role of supporting the coordination of the National Coalition together with LIKTA. The Coalition provides different stakeholders with a platform to discuss and execute digital skills development goals for Latvia and cooperate on joint initiatives.
The current priorities of Latvian National Coalition include:
Digital skills development for the labour force, including reskilling and upskilling activities.
Digital competence development and support of digital transformation for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
Digital technology implementation in education process and supporting digital competence development for educators at all levels.
Increasing the number of ICT specialists and promoting ICT careers for young people and women.
Developing digital skills for all citizens in order to fully exploit digital services.
Raising awareness of cybersecurity skills and cybersecurity competences development.
Overview of state strategies and national initiatives
At national level, the main actions developed in Latvia are based on the “Digital Transformation Guidelines 2021-2027”, adopted by Latvian Government in July 2021, which focuses in particular on the digital skills for SMEs. The Strategy covers ICT education and digital skills, internet access, modern and efficient public administration, e-services and digital content for society. In particular, the policy sets the following KPIs for Latvia in digital skills area, to be reached by 2027:
70% of citizens with at least basic digital skills
45% of citizens with above basic digital skills
3% of ICT specialists among employed
Other important actions and information concerning the development of digital skills in Latvia can be found in the “Latvian Education Development Guidelines 2021-2027”, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia and drafted with the support of OECD, which includes many activities aimed at developing e-learning tools and digital and transversal competences.
The National Industrial Policy Guidelines 2021-2027 coordinated by the Ministry of Economics of the Republic of Latvia addresses the development of basic and advanced digital skills for businesses, especially SME s in Latvia. The action line “Strengthening human capital” particularly focuses on workforce training for digital skills, attracting young people to ICT and STEM as well as creating sectoral skills Funds in Latvia.
Since 2014 Latvia has dedicated Cybersecurity strategy, The current version “Latvian Cybersecurity Strategy 2023-2026” was adopted in March 2023 and have dedicated pillar for education and research and activities for digital and cybersecurity skills’ development at all levels.
Based on these strategies, Latvia’s government, together with the business and NGO sectors, is working on a National Digital Skills Action Plan which will focus on these tasks:
Digital competences in education and training systems
The role of industry, civil society and other stakeholders
Advanced digital skills for the labour force
Governance of digital skills and related education policies
One of the main initiatives related to digital skills organised at national level is the Digital Week (“Digitālā nedēļa” in Latvian), an annual awareness-raising event promoting digital skills and opportunities to acquire them. The event happens since 2010 and is organised by a large alliance of stakeholders led by LIKTA. In 2023, Digital Week in Latvia was organised in Latvia in the frame of the European Year of Skills 2023 and ALL Digital Weeks 2023, and this year it was held in Latvia for the 14th time. The campaign was opened by a high-level policy event “What will be the Year of Digital Skills in Latvia?”.
Another joint initiative which focuses on promoting digital skills and digital transformation for SMEs is the “Smart Latvia” campaign (“Gudrā Latvija” in Latvian). The initiative started in 2019 with an aim to foster digital transformation of Latvian SMEs focusing on activities to develop digital skills for company managers and employees.
A network of Code Week ambassadors, teacher leaders and volunteers has been established in Latvia. The network coordinates the promotion of Code Week in Latvian educational institutions.
Latvia has a high priority to involve women in ICT professions and digital jobs. There are several major initiatives to support women digital careers development, reskilling and upskilling girls and women into digital technologies. Public, private and NGO sector representatives work together to implement activities of such initiatives as Women4IT, Riga Tech Girls, She Can Do IT and others.
Funding opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to support the digital competences of individuals and organizations are available in form of loans, grants and financial instruments. For the period 2021 – 2026, most of the activities in digital transformation are financed through Recovery and Resilience facility and European Social Fund and regional Development Fund. But there are also activities supported by Horizon, Erasmus+, Interreg and EEA grant schemes. You may find more on the page of the Latvan National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and in the article on the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform.