EIT Digital published a report in early September 2022 addressing the issues of digital skills and digital specialism through an analysis of the supply of broadly defined education and training presented by both public and private institutions.
“To close the digital skills gap, Europe must modernize its outdated public digital education programs, integrate and streamline private digital education initiatives, and better coordinate pan-European digital skills initiatives, networks and ecosystems”.
A skills revolution is necessary for Europe to address the digital transition, which has been accelerated by the COVID-19-induced digital rush of the last two years. The intersection of inclusiveness and progress is both a difficulty and an opportunity. Along with further programs to teach and retrain the portion of the adult population that has long abandoned their studies, Europe requires educational systems appropriate for the digital age. In order for European businesses and organizations to innovate in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs) like Artificial Intelligence or the Internet of Things, they must have both basic digital skills, which are part of today’s understanding of literacy, and specialized skills.
The ambitious goals that the EU’s Digital Compass set for 2030 in the domain of digital skills highlight the significance of the two dimensions – basic digital skills and digital specialization. But according to the most recent research, current programs won’t be able to achieve the Digital Compass’s two main objectives of employing 20 million digital professionals in the EU by 2030 and giving at least 80% of Europe’s adult population basic digital capabilities. Without a significant increase in investments and innovations on the supply side, the current trajectory implies that by 2030, only 13.3 million digital professionals will be employed, and only 64% of the population would have at least basic digital abilities.
To reach the most favourable scenario in Europe, the report identifies significant gaps in the status quo, draws conclusions from these forward-looking scenarios, and offers three key recommendations:
1. The entire European public education system, from primary schools up to universities, needs to urgently modernize the largely outdated digital education programs. The public offering must update its elementary, secondary, and collegiate curricula to better reflect the demands of the labour market and adapt to emerging technologies.
2. The scattered private digital education initiatives should move to a complementary, broader, and better coordinated overall offering of digital skills initiatives. Non-governmental training providers should widen their scope in terms of both the subjects they cover and the audiences they intend to reach. Tech behemoths and other private entities should offer programs that go beyond those that are only relevant to their technological ecosystem while offering scholarships and other financial programs jointly with regional governments.
3. There is a need for better orchestrated pan-European digital skills initiatives, networks, and ecosystems to increase overall quality, efficiency, and effectiveness. There is a need for cooperation at the European level to accomplish the digital skill targets of the European Digital Compass in a fair, inclusive, and sustainable manner, considering the enormous obstacles and costs involved. It is necessary to improve coordination, develop further, and integrate the private sector in pan-EU education projects like the EIT and the European University Networks.
© EIT Digital