Launch of the National eSkills Strategy 2019-2021

Launch of the National eSkills Strategy 2019-2021

Article by Carm Cachia, eSkills Malta Foundation Chief Administrator published on the Sunday Times of Malta on 14.04.2019

These are times that Digital Technology is prevalent across all sectors, and this has created a need for digital skills for most roles and positions of employment. Digital skills are not just relevant for ICT practitioners, but also for the workforce, education providers, and society. The National eSkills agenda seeks to develop a larger digital talent pool and to ensure that individuals and the labour force are equipped with adequate digital skills. Since 2017, member states of the EU have been invited to develop comprehensive national digital skills strategies, and in this respect, Malta is one of the first few countries to specifically step up to this challenge.

On the 13th March, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, Honourable Silvio Schembri launched the National eSkills Strategy 2019-2021, making Malta the first EU member state to have a national strategy for digital skills.  The launch event included very rich content coming from the Hon. Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Gerard de Graaf from the European Commission as Director for the Digital Single Market in Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG CONNECT), Mr Carm Cachia as Chief Administrator of the eSkills Malta Foundation, Mr Robert Debono as ICT Director of Study, PwC, and Mr Vince Maione as CEO for the National Skills Council, Ministry for Education and Employment.

The Hon Silvio Schembri explained that the strategy seeks to pave the way for the enhancing of our digital skills as a nation and ultimately prepares for the challenges ahead in an ever-evolving digital scenario and said that “The past few years have seen the unprecedented rise of digital and communication technologies, which together with the digital economy, have dramatically changed every aspect of life as we know it. For our country to thrive within this context we need to furnish tomorrow’s generations with the right skills and training”

The eSkills Malta Foundation had embarked on this project in April 2018 and with the involvement of PwC, managed to engage with the relevant stakeholders through various surveys, workshops, and face-to-face meeting to come up with important recommendations that Malta should recommend, possibly championed by the Foundation.  In the project, a proper study of the current state in digital and ICT skills, the upcoming local and international emerging technologies, the upcoming education and training methods.  Following this, through guidelines from the eSkills Malta Foundation, the project charted the state that Malta would preferably be by 2021, and then the steps of getting there.

In the launch, Mr Gerard de Graaf gave a very accurate position of what Malta is doing in the digital and ICT skills arena. To quote he said

“Malta, and in particular, the eSkills Malta Foundation has done excellent work in digital skills policy, training and upskilling your citizens and the labour force. Therefore, the facts speak for themselves.” 

Further, in this speech, he said that “the record in Malta is good, also when we look at the Digital Economy and Society Index, to become a leading digital country in Europe and the world”.  These are surely words that give us motivation and encouragement to go further and higher in the realm of digital and ICT Skills.

The implementation of the strategy in itself is a challenge because although it will involve a rolling non-static strategy, which will get feedback from a Strategic Consultative Committee, it will tackle communication on a digital environment, future technology and growth, IT teaching and guidance, funding sustainable initiatives, support on curriculum design and professional development, upskilling industry, assessing digital competence, participative use of tech by youth, digital divide in society, and also importantly opening up to national recognition of the IT Profession.

As in the past, the eSkills Malta Foundation will work incessantly towards its goals and looks forward to collaboration with stakeholders in achieving further our aims.