27 Jul 2022

DIGITALEUROPE sets three areas of priority for European digital skills

In a letter published today, DIGITALEUROPE calls on the European Commission to prioritise three important areas in their structured dialogue with Member States on digital skills.

The letter, addressed to Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager, Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, Commissioner Thierry Breton, Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, highlights the sizable digital skills gap facing several vital sectors, that has become even more evident in light of the war in Ukraine. In order to tackle this issue, DIGITALEUROPE calls on the Commission to prioritise cybersecurity upskilling, recognition of industry certifications and compulsory computer sciences in education curricular in the upcoming high-level discussions.

Read the letter in full below.

Letter on the structured dialogue on digital education and skills between the Commission and Member States

Dear Executive Vice-President Vestager, Vice-President Schinas, Commissioner Breton, Commissioner Gabriel and Commissioner Schmit,

We praise your leadership in elevating the discussion on digital skills and education to the highest level of government in the EU. We can’t afford anymore to have a piecemeal approach to skills development in Europe. Your Structured Dialogue with Member States can change that for good.

As Executive Vice-President Vestager said recently in the exchange with the IMCO Committee in March, digital skills are so important today that they require a whole-of-government approach. Never before have they been so instrumental in the sustainability, public health, prosperity and integrity of our economy and society.

As we have pointed out ever since we launched our Manifesto for a Stronger Digital Europe back in 2019,[1] Europe’s goals for new investments and measures on digital will fail to materialise unless society has proper digital competencies. The EU Recovery Fund aims to offer new digital infrastructure and solutions to our SMEs, yet 55% of EU businesses still struggle with filling ICT vacancies.[2]  NIS2 aims to bolster EU cyber-resilience, yet Europe lacks almost 200,000[3] cybersecurity specialists, all at a time of looming cyber threats from the war in Ukraine.

This is why we ask you to prioritise in the Structured Dialogue the three important areas below:

  1. Cybersecurity upskilling: the Dialogue should urgently launch a multi-Country Project building on the commitments in the Digital Decade and the Pact for Skills for the Digital Ecosystem. It should map capabilities across EU countries, identify common gaps in areas like penetration testing, security awareness, compliance, and launch a public-private, EU-wide partnership making training resources available to the public. As a start, the partnership should first upskill SMEs in critical sectors for the EU’s resilience. These goals are within our reach if we scale up existing best practices. Just in six months, DIGITALEUROPE offered cybersecurity training to 4800 individual users across Europe.[4]
  2. Recognition of industry certifications: the Dialogue should ensure public employment agencies better integrate industry certificates into their formal qualification systems. This would place ICT talents into digital jobs faster, while allowing industry certification to help offer a ‘’common currency’’ on EU job markets. Industry-certified digital skills are informally acquired, yet in the right circumstances, they are as relevant as a university or vocational training degree. Many citizens need short-term, targeted training to digitally upskill themselves on particular applications, which industry can help certify.
  3. Compulsory computer sciences in education curricula: Member States should ensure coding and computational thinking get enough compulsory curricular time in secondary schools, as Denmark has just done, and algorithmic thinking is a compulsory subject in primary schools. The Dialogue should explore monetary reward and incentive schemes for those EU countries that make their curricula digital-proof. It should formalise, as part of the European Semester, a permanent review of Member States’ progress on the topic, with calls for action to take where needed. There cannot be any long-term, sustainable expansion of our digital talent pool without proper attention to foundational knowledge of computer science in all primary and secondary education curricula of all Member States.

Industry’s formal involvement in this Dialogue will be essential in delivering on each of these three priorities. No single actor can solve the reskilling and upskilling challenge alone.

 


References

[1] Available here

[2] Eurostat, ICT specialists – statistics on hard-to-fill vacancies in enterprises, 2021

[3] (ISC)², Cybersecurity Workforce Study 2021

[4] More info on our EU-funded Digital SkillUp initiative here.

Download the letter
DOWNLOAD (PDF)
For more information, please contact:
Samia Fitouri
Senior Communications Manager
Vincenzo Renda
Senior Manager for Digital Transformation Policy
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