Towards the 2030 EU Digital Decade targets: the role of the Irish National Coalition and the wider Digital Skills and Jobs Community

The European Commission’s ‘Digital Decade’ strategy aims to foster a digitally skilled population as well as secure and sustainable digital infrastructures, digital transformation of businesses and digitisation of public services. It is a race against time, as the digital economy continues to grow exponentially, and the green transition increasingly will rely on the solutions that developing technologies bring with them. 

By Mary Cleary

The Digital Skills and Jobs Community: Perspectives from Europe and Ireland

One large scale best practice in Europe to accelerate the necessary change is the establishment of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition stakeholder community. This community plays a key role in driving achievement of the Digital Decade 2030 targets, through its active engagement with citizens, industry, education, government bodies, and other stakeholders.

This type of international support and is unique, and the creation of this community is a best practice in itself, that in turn supports distinct best practices among community members. The best practice of collaboration, learning from each other, and identifying specific actions that can help to drive the rising standards of digital skills has captured the imagination of the coalition stakeholders. It is open to all parties that wish to learn and implement, as well as teach and produce, the various components of digitalisation. The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition consists of regional and national partners who take concrete actions to bring digital skills to all levels of society. 

In Ireland, the national Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition network includes employers and certifying bodies as well as representative organisations, for example those representing unemployed workers.

The national coalition’s website serves as a ‘one-stop shop’ for all the different initiatives related to training, funding, and career guidance for Irish citizens. This same idea is mirrored in other member countries across Europe, and the large repository of national initiatives are gathered at the EU-level information-point, the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform – at the very heart of digital skills in Europe.

What best practice does the Irish National Coalition bring to bridge the digital skills gap? 

According to Linda Keane, who is General Manager at ICDL Ireland, the Coalition serves as an important tool for addressing skill needs in Ireland:

 “The national Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a key platform where we can meet and address the challenge of boosting digital literacy in Ireland. This is urgent as 42 percent of Irish people currently describe themselves as being ‘below average’ for digital skills”. 

Dave Feenan, Network Manager at Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet, also stresses the need for a common strategy among stakeholders:

“As we enter the digital decade and embrace new technologies, there is the need for a synchronised skills and talent strategy to keep Europe at the forefront of innovation and competitiveness. Aligned to this, it is critical that we do not create digital skills poverty amongst our citizens. Access to the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform will assist society to immerse themselves in this new digital world.”

The future is now: digital jobs, upskilling, and reskilling 

Upskilling and reskilling needs are of particular importance when we speak about current and future demand for skills and the automation of job roles in our society. Easy access to information and training content is crucial for gaining an understanding of the future job market and how you should adapt either as a job seeker or job creator. One objective for National Digital Skills and Job Coalitions is to ensure that this is provided and to function as a main contact point for further enquiries.

The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition creates an ideal environment for citizens to find the right resources, while it enables sharing of best practice for digital transformation of the workplace. What needs to be done now is to continue to grow this network and engage more in collective effort, which is the best way that we may ensure an accessible and efficient implementation of the digital economy in Europe.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Cleary is Secretary-General of the Irish Computer Society (ICS). She is also the Chair of CEN Technical Committee 428: ‘Digital Competences and IT Professionalism’

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