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Basic (digital) skills: An integrated approach to an inclusive European Year of Skills


This document is a state of play on the EU’s position regarding  basic digital skills in the relevant context of the European Year of Skills. Basic skills refer to those skills which are fundamental to fully participate in society and to thrive in life. Among them, digital competencies play an essential role. In today’s modern life, literacy and digital literacy are intrinsically interrelated – a phenomenon deepened by COVID and the continuously emerging new technologies. Therefore, in this article, we adopt a contemporary definition of basic skills, which includes basic digital skills. We argue for the wide adoption of this definition, to advocate for an integrated approach between basic literacy training and digital skills training, which is the only way forward for truly sustainable adult education. 

While the world becomes more digitalised, a digital skills divide is emerging and groups in vulnerable situations without a basic level of digital competencies are growingly being excluded from different life spheres. Digital competencies are encompassed in lifelong learning, therefore we need frameworks addressing people with no to low basic digital skills to guarantee an inclusive digital transition. 

According to Eurostat, an alarming 46% of European citizens do not reach a basic level of digital skills. By 2030, the European Commission has set a specific objective to increase this percentage to 80%. However, specific policies aimed at this goal are yet to be defined and implemented. We propose to amplify regional European frameworks measuring digital skills to make them more inclusive; in doing so, we will explore successful local initiatives and case studies. Being 2023 the European Year of Skills, we believe the time has come to bring basic skills back to the centre of the debate on ways to bridge the digital divide and the digital transition to a more fair and inclusive world.

That is why on June 7th 2023 we hosted a hybrid event to advocate for a return of basic skills at the front of the European Skills Agenda: “Episode 1 – Let’s Bring Basic Skills Back In The European Year Of Skills”.