Categories: OP-ED

Digital Skills “fueling” the transformation of digital economy in EaP countries

The rapid technological improvements in the last decades have helped develop web technologies, brought various new online services and unlocked many new job possibilities. More than ever digital skills are essential for young people in order to take advantage of these opportunities and play a key role in the evolution of the digital economy. Like reading and writing, digital skills are becoming a necessity in everyday life.
Furthermore, there is a need for working on improved anticipation of skills needs and on the impact of digitization on jobs. The solutions to our digital skills challenges cannot be implemented by any single Country, or by any single group of actors in isolation, – these require strong cross-European and national partnerships, adequate policies and appropriate funding. They also require strong and sustained commitment to reverse trends and ensure our citizens and workers are prepared for the digital revolution. In particular, we need national digital skills strategies for all EaP – also addressing the modernization of education – and implementing them with the support of national coalitions. We need to join forces in a cross-European coalition to spread the best solutions to the common challenges we face, to achieve scale and in doing so have a real impact. These coalitions should connect and improve dialogue among all relevant stakeholders – industry, education and training, government, social partners, making use of the best practices to support adequate training programmes.

The following recommendations could be followed:

Raise awareness on digital technologies and what digital technologies are capable of doing, how they can support each business operation and what IT infrastructure is required to sustain this operations. Special attention to be given to type of digital technology and to understand whether the technology adopted is likely to fit the business and IT strategy of the enterprise.
Campaigns, should be implemented to raise awareness both of the importance of the use of digital technologies to support and improve business performance, productivity and internal organization. Most importantly the major focus is on strategic alignment of operations and IT infrastructure as well as IT and business priorities of the firm , which should be strategically linked.
Expand the availability of digital skills through the education and training system, but also prepare experts who can and willing to teach it. Many of those experts are country expats which want to give back to their communities and will be able to engage with IT and educational communities to visit places and teach digital skills.
– The education and training sector should be supported to develop and adapt its offer to meet the changing needs of the digital economy. Training aimed at fostering digital competence and digital skills is commonly believed to be the most appropriate tool to tackle the digital challenge.
a) Educate and train more young people for digital professions so that we can create a large pool of talented young digital professionals, with increased female participation, who are work ready and can take up the growing number of unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals in EaP.
B) Up-skill and re-skill the EaP countries labor force with the digital skills they need to remain productive in the jobs they have and to become employable for new ones.
c) Modernize our education and training systems for the digital age, bringing digital skills and competences to all levels of education and training.
d) Improve the digital skills of all citizens so that they can play an active role in modern society, strengthening social inclusion.
Build multi-stakeholder partnerships based also on effective social dialogue to increase the availability of digital skills- Policymakers should support digital skills development within multi-stakeholder partnerships. Partnerships are proven to generate a more inclusive and targeted approach to skills development and training provision that is more responsive to labor market needs, in line with vocational programmes and qualifications. A digital skills strategy should therefore be the result of a discussion based on effective social dialogue.

Include digital skills in a wider skills strategy-Although it remains crucial to develop a range of specific digital skills which respond to the needs of the digital economy, wider digital skills for the whole population should be embedded in a broader and comprehensive skills strategy in which other transversal skills relevant to employers such as soft skills and communication skills are also included. Evidence shows that the most effective means of improving employability and closing skills gaps are more generic measures aimed at improving the capacity of workers to acquire new skills and learn in an evolving economy.Consider diversity and avoid the ‘one-size fits all’ approach-Employers require different types and levels of digital skills according to the sector in which they operate, their size, their market, and the country in which they are based. In designing a digital skills strategy or any other type of initiative to help employers to access the required digital skills, diversity needs to be clearly addressed through a tailored approach.

Note: OP-ED is published with NO editorial change or correction

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