08 Oct 2018

DIGITALEUROPE's Position on EU funding for digital skills in the next EU budget 2021-2027


The digital transformation has a far-reaching impact on Europe and its citizens, in all aspects of social and economic life. It presents a major opportunity for Europe’s competitiveness; however, challenges go along with it and Europe has to address them accordingly. In particular, Europe must ensure that the workforce and all citizens have the appropriate digital skills for all dimensions of live and work. The current digital skills gap slows down Europe’s growth, hampers competitiveness and innovation capacity, and raises the risk of a digital divide in society. European startups, small, medium and large enterprises do not innovate as fast as they want because of lack of talent and insufficient digital skills development.

We acknowledge the fact that the European Union acts upon increased innovation and employability, modernising education and training systems through the diverse portfolio of EU funds and programmes. The support is reaching tens of thousands of local, regional, national and Europe-wide projects, and millions of Europeans.

General recommendations for the EU funds and programmes

  • We welcome the budget proposal focusing on the European digital economy. The MFF’sambition is a step in the right direction for boosting digital skills of the European population. Without strong leadership at the EU-level, investments in those skills may not happen to the scale needed. It is important that in the budget’s perspective 2021-2027 all the funds and programmes fully achieve their objectives and potential blockers are eliminated.
  • Digital inclusion. Basic digital skills are a must for everyone to be an active citizen of the society. However, for the effective employability programmes in the era of digital transformation, the EU funds and programmes need to support also digital skills on medium and advanced levels. It is key for the digital skills of all levels to be accommodated in every local and regional programmes and projects, where the most successful employability interventions happen.
  • Lifelong learning is the key to secure employability. The current and future employees need to continuously update their skills and acquire new skills to stay relevant on the labour market. Skills become obsolete when one stops learning, and it is true for all dimensions of life and work. The gains from investment into technology innovation can be achieved only if there are enough people with the right skills to make best use of it. It is vital to encourage more organisations to offer training and skills development for the employed individuals to fully embrace the new solutions and to deploy them as fast as possible.
  • Teachers, educators and trainers should also benefit from the modernisation of education and training systems, and receive up to date training, coaching or additional education supported by the EU interventions. It is even more critical to enable ‘train-the-trainer’ programmes toensure skills proliferation at scale.
  • A high-quality assurance of training provided is of the utmost importance, ideally digital skills training should be authorised or certified by relevant public or private entities, and compliant with the European standards (such as the European e-Competence Framework etc.).
  • The real market cost of training related to ICT is high. Therefore, the EU rules applicable to funds and programmes need to reflect market reality as much as possible, also taking into account better and more transparent planning of the calls for proposals.
  • There is a need for greater engagement of the private sector. Partnerships with the private sector actors (potential employers, private education and training providers) ensures market relevance, faster and more efficient technology and know-how transfer from the industry to academia, education institutions and better-fitted skills acquisition by the students and educators.
  • DIGITALEUROPE strongly supports the synergies: complementing priorities and corresponding objectives between different EU funds and programmes in the area of digital skills visible in the proposals for the next long-term EU budget.

  • Table of content
    1. European Social Fund+
    2. European Regional Development Fund
    3. Regulation laying down common provisions on the ERDF, the ESF+, the CF, and the EMFF – “the Common Provisions”
    4. Digital Europe Programme
    5. Erasmus Programme
Download the full document
For more information, please contact:
Helena Lovegrove
Senior Director for Operations & Projects
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