The ICS Foundation is proud to support The Bratislava Declaration, along with representatives from governments, industry, academia, NGOs, and other key stakeholders across Europe who are committed to bridging the digital skills gap to empower Europeans and support Member States as well as the European Commission in this endeavour, by joining forces and working together.
Digital and key enabling technologies provide the basis for innovation in a range of products across all industrial sectors. They underpin the shift to a greener economy, are instrumental in modernising Europe’s industrial base, and drive the development of entirely new industries. Their importance makes them a key element of European industrial policy.
Digital technology opens the world to European business and Europe to global markets, enabling Europe to compete more effectively on the world stage. For the EU28, eliminating barriers to the expansion of the digital economy based on the free flow of information and knowledge could deliver 4% additional GDP growth over the next ten years, a gain of €500bn and similar in scale to the growth dividend achieved as a result of the EU’s historic Single Market programme of 1992.
One of the major weaknesses of Europe with regards to new technologies lies in the difficulty of translating its knowledge base into marketable goods and services and into new and better jobs.
With the current scale of the new digital revolution, governments, business, educational institutions will need to change their approach to education, skills, employment, build new training models or even new labour market institutions. Europe does not have much time. The stakes are high; a failure to act now will lead to growing unemployment, labour issues and losing benefits of this new digital revolution.
What is more, over the past several years, the rising number of refugees arriving in Europe has provided an opportunity to fill the digital skills gap. Many refugees have the potential needed to fill this. Upskilling and introducing them to the labour market are the challenges. Companies from across all sectors, including the technology sector, have endorsed this opportunity and many are engaged in actions to make this a reality.
Without appropriately digitally skilled people, the digitisation of the European economy will become problematic.
Building on the European Commission’s Communication on “e-Skills for the 21st Century: Fostering Competitiveness, Growth and Jobs”, stakeholders, the European Commission and Member States have been actively addressing the IT skills gap for several years. Important developments of such strategy are the launch of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs in 2013 and of the “e-Skills for Jobs campaign” (2014-2016). Under the auspices of this campaign, representatives from governments, industry, academia and other key stakeholders across Europe have joined forces with the European Commission to push for further action to stimulate investment, the acquisition of digital skills and the creation of jobs to kick start Europe’s anaemic rate of economic growth. The Bratislava Declaration – 18 October 2016.
On 10 June 2016 the European Commission has announced a ’’New Skills Agenda for Europe’’. It includes ‘10 Actions to equip people with better skills’, which underline the actions proposed in this Declaration. Among them is the launch on 1st December 2016 of a ’’Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition’’ which industry players and key stakeholders are fully committed to support.