On 28 June 2023, more than 35 representatives of national digital skills and jobs coalitions from across Europe attended in person a half-day joint creative workshop in Brussels, Belgium. The workshop was useful and also served to highlight a high level of digital skills at both national and EU level.
As President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen announced 2023 as the ‘Year of Skills’, the digital aspect has never been more important, and a number of EU initiatives are being launched across Europe to support the development of basic and advanced digital skills. The ‘Year of Skills’ campaign aims to help companies, and SMEs in particular, address skills shortages within the EU and support lifelong learning in upskilling and reskilling, as well as access to the right skills for quality jobs.
A good step towards making the next decade more digital and European
The workshop started with welcome remarks by Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak, Head of Unit, DG CNECT, who stressed the urgent need to continue to meet the goals of the Digital Decade to ensure that 80 % of EU citizens acquire and benefit from at least a basic level of digital skills in their daily and professional lives and that 20 million ICT specialists are in employment by 2030.
Digital skills are high on the European Commission’s agenda: and it is currently pooling a huge amount of resources to support the development of both basic and advanced digital skills through the Digital EuropeProgramme (see the 4th round of DIGITAL public calls ending on 26 September –Upgrading the digital skills of young pupils (especially girls) and Strengthening semiconductor skills). Another example of this increased effort to ensure that EU citizens can make the most of the opportunities offered by the future is the Cyber Skills Academy of the hosting platform for digital skills and jobs.
Following the official remarks, Vitis Faure Tilgaard, Policy Officer of DG CNECT, took the floor to highlight some of the main achievements in the field of digital technologies and skills last year and thanked representatives of national coalitions for their key role in bridging the digital skills gap in EU Member States also in 2023, the European Year of Skills.
Interactive co-creation workshop on topical topics on digital skills and jobs
Barbara Quarta, project manager European Schoolnet, presented some of the main points from the last two years of the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform.
It was followed by an interactive session on the most up-to-date topics in the area of digital skills and jobs. Representatives of national coalitions were divided into 5 roundtables, each with around 10 people, each addressing key challenges and solutions on key topics such as: digital inclusion, women and girls in ICT, cybersecurity skills and cyber academy, artificial intelligence for SMEs and professionals, digital skills for young people.
The last part of the workshop was dedicated to the presentation of the outputs of the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform working groups with national coalitions. The working groups set up in early 2022 offered a space for coalition representatives to share knowledge and discuss digital skills strategies, editorial and content approaches to showcase initiatives in an engaging way and successful community building and communication activities.
Members of the Italian and Latvian national coalitions presented the results of the Strategy Working Group, including recommendations for national coalitions at higher and more strategic level, as well as the next steps and different ways in which European policy makers supported the national coalition in this task. Members of the National Coalition from Spain, Malta, Portugal and Luxembourg presented some key initiatives in relation to women and girls in the field of ICT in the context of the Content WG.
The European Digital Skills Awards 2023 are another way to highlight the important role of the work on digital skills to be carried out in each European region, city and area – and for each group concerned, be it EU citizens in general, the workforce, ICT professionals and digital professionals or students, teachers and educators.
There are a number of excellent initiatives. Many interesting projects taking place across Europe show us that digital skills are ‘for all’ – regardless of age, gender, disability and location.
This is demonstrated by the success of this year’s European Digital Skills Awards – with 330 quality projects across all categories. A list of award-winning projects with a closer description of each initiative can be found in an article from the award ceremony here.