This 2023 has been declared the European Year of Skills, enhancing initiatives, policies and funding around the access to skills for all European residents. This context presents an exceptional opportunity to address the urgent need to bring vulnerable individuals to the front of our efforts to guarantee their social and economic integration through digital skills. Together with our community, we will double our efforts to make sure no one is left behind.
Every year, the European Commission chooses a topic relevant to European life that will serve as a compass for collaborative work amongst all EU members. Through promoting initiatives, policies and funding around the chosen theme, the European Commission seeks to bring attention to it and generate action around it. For 2023, the Commission has chosen skills to be at the centre of its agenda; that is why this year will be the European Year of Skills.
We have the unique opportunity to push forward a skills revolution in Europe, where lifelong learning is the norm and upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new ones) become a mindset for all working-age adults. We are undergoing an unprecedented digital transition transforming the economy and society, which requires all Europeans to acquire and develop digital skills to keep up with the ongoing changes in how we live, work and interact. The labour market urgently demands new skills, as more than three-quarters of companies in the EU report difficulties finding workers with the necessary skills. Businesses need workers with the skills required to master the ongoing green and digital transitions, and people need the proper skills and training to thrive in digital life. In this context, basic digital skills training is the first and fundamental step for the integration of vulnerable groups digitally excluded, who cannot be a part of this process. Having the relevant digital skills empowers individuals to successfully navigate labour market changes, enjoy better job opportunities and fully thrive in the digital era.
That is why the European Year of Skills proposes a united approach where every organisation gets involved and boosts skills learning through more comprehensive training and education, making it available to all European residents. A workforce with the skills in demand contributes to sustainable growth and innovation and paves the way for a more inclusive Europe.
Our Collective is integrated by forward-thinking digital inclusion advocates actively working on the social and economic integration of vulnerable individuals in Europe through basic digital skills training. Through this training, we empower people digitally excluded with the tools, knowledge and confidence to start benefiting from the digital era. In this light, 2023 is our Collective’s year as well.
When addressing inclusiveness in the digital era, we need to underline how important it is to put vulnerable groups at the centre. In Europe, the Digital Economy and Society Index shows that 4 out of 10 people lack basic digital skills to participate in society and get decent jobs. Upskilling and reskilling suppose a level of knowledge that is far from present in these disadvantaged groups. People with no basic digital skills cannot access certain rights and opportunities available to others. They cannot fulfil basic needs themselves, such as paying their taxes and bills, booking an online appointment or accessing an online public service. For many countries, digitalisation means all services and processes are going digital, a process which intrinsically excludes digitally illiterate individuals, who cannot profit from the benefits of digitalisation as others do. They are digitally excluded from society and will remain so until they are given the right tools and training to be digitally autonomous.
In this context, the European Year of Skills will provide the necessary spotlight to help achieve the 2030 Digital Compass target of at least 80% of adults with basic digital skills. The European Commission also has set targets in the European skills agenda and the digital education action plan to ensure a midpoint objective: 70% of adults should have basic digital skills by 2025. To do so, they have developed the EU Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, whose main objective is to tackle the digital skills gap by bringing together all relevant actors to raise awareness of the importance of training to boost Europeans’ digital skills. Reaching these objectives will require a truly collaborative European effort that will demand the commitment of every Member State, company, social partner, non-profit organisation and education provider who works to address the lack of digital skills in Europe. It is our Collective’s mission as well. With co-creation and collaboration at the core, our Community reunites individuals and organisations who believe no one should be excluded from the digital transition. Ours is a targeted approach for skilling vulnerable groups who lack basic digital skills. Through granting, we support and partner with organisations that have ongoing programs to change this reality.
That is why teaching basic digital skills to vulnerable individuals around Europe is at the heart of this European Year of Skills. Closing the digital skills gap will be the true skills revolution that will bring more equity and inclusion in the digital society, ensuring no one is left behind.
Join the Digital Collective today and let’s tackle the digital divide!