Digital education: the European Commission calls for improving digital skills among European citizens

On 18 April, in the context of the European Year of Skills, the European Commission has adopted two proposals aimed at supporting the development of digital skills among European citizens. The proposals address the lack of a whole-of-government approach to digital education and training, as well as difficulties in equipping people with the necessary digital skills.

The first proposal, a “Council Recommendation on the key enabling factors for successful digital education and training” calls on Member States to ensure universal access to high-quality digital education and training, and to address the digital divide that has become even more evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It proposes a framework for investment, governance, and teachers training to achieve effective and inclusive digital education.

These proposals underline the need for everyone everywhere in Europe to have access to digital education. We need to do much better on digital skills and treat them with the same importance as reading and writing. The aim is to reach a target of at least 80% of all adults as a minimum with basic digital skills, and 20 million employed ICT specialists including a lot more women, by 2030“. Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age

The second proposal, a “Council Recommendation on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training” addresses the varying levels of digital skills within different segments of the population and the ability of national education and training systems to address these differences. It calls on Member States to provide digital skills coherently through all levels of education and training and to establish incremental objectives and targeted interventions for specific priority or hard-to-reach groups.

“A Europe fit for the digital age needs to lead not only in technology but also in education. Our education and training systems must embrace the opportunities offered by the digital age and empower learners with the competences and skills needed to set them up for success in their present and future. We must respond more effectively to the increased needs for digital skills for learning, for life and for the labour market”Margaritis Schinas, Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life

How this will work?

To support the implementation of these proposals, the Commission will facilitate mutual learning and exchanges among Member States and stakeholders through EU instruments such as the Technical Support Instrument. The Commission will also promote digital education and skills through cooperation within the European Digital Education Hub and through EU funding programs. The Commission’s key action will be to facilitate the recognition of certification of digital skills through a pilot project of the European Digital Skills Certificate, which aims to enhance trust in and acceptance of digital skills certification across the EU. The pilot project will be run together with several Member States, and the final European Digital Skills Certificate will be rolled out in 2024 based on the pilot’s outcomes and a feasibility study.

Overall, the proposals align with the Digital Decade, which aims to ensure that 80% of adults have at least basic digital skills, and that 20 million ICT specialists are employed in the EU by 2030. The proposals are also in line with the European digital rights and principles of solidarity and inclusion, which state that everyone should have access to the internet and digital skills, with no one left behind.

“Our work with EU Member States through the Digital Education Action Plan has proved useful in pointing to our weaknesses and identifying solutions. The digital divide remains in our territories and societies. Today’s proposals are exposing our vision for an inclusive and high-quality digital education. I am confident that Member States, schools and training institutes, teachers, parents and learners will join forces and transform our vision into reality”.Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth

Next Steps

The Commission calls on Member States to swiftly adopt the proposals for two Council Recommendations and will set up a High-Level Group on Digital Education and Skills to support the implementation of the two Recommendations.

For more information

Read more about the Commission’s calls to improve digital education and provide digital skills.

© European Union, 2023

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