Digital Skills: Mind the gap!

On Tuesday 27 May 2018, YouthProAktiv joined an event organized by Euractiv dedicated to a lively debate on the use of digital skills and AI’s (Artificial intelligence) on the labour market.

Last year, the European Commission published a New Skills Agenda for Europe: Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness. The mentioned document presents a number of actions and initiatives to be implemented in order to tackle the digital skills deficit in Europe.

Digital economy is recognised to be one of the main sources of growth for the coming decade. The spread of digital is having a massive impact on the labour market and the type of skills needed in the economy and society. Yet, Eurostat reports that only a little more than half the European population (age 16-74) possesses basic or above basic digital skills (i.e. using the internet for information, communication, problem solving, content creation).

Furthermore, education systems in Europe seem to be failing on their task to train sufficient number of IT-specialists, data-scientists or to provide young workers with basic digital skills. At the same time, Europe seem to be falling behind when it comes to creating a sustainable start-up ecosystem or investing strategically in Artificial Intelligence.

Yasen Gyurov, Chair of the Education Committee, Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, explained that due to his work in many different areas related with digital skills like digital reality, he is aware of the need to provide information from EU member states to their citizens, and to create informed digital consumers. Therefore, from his point of view, a certain transformation in the education systems is necessary.

Anusca Ferrari, Policy Assistant from European Commission, highlighted that a digital transformation is needed, specially in formal education. In order to address this issue, DG Education and Culture (DG EAC) created a special working group for digital education which is trying to exchange the good practices between EU member states concerning digitalisation.. She gave Finland as an example for Europe, specifically in school education, knowledge skills and digital aptitudes.

Brando Fenifei, MEP, Member of Employment Committee of the European Parliament was asked about the impact of technology on the labour market. According to his point of view, we can be optimistic about the future since although some jobs will disappear, others will be created. He also mentioned that the labour market will always be in need of people, since in most occupations it is impossible to replace human interactions with Artificial Intelligence. However, like the others speakers, Mr. Benifei claimed that there is a need for investing in education devoted to the use of the new technologies for pupils at school, in order to protect them from unverified information.