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Networking session: A European basic digital skills policy benchmark

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On March 15th, we hosted the first online networking session for our Collective’s members: A European basic digital skills policy benchmark. This exchange’s objective was to open a dialogue around the existing frameworks addressing digital skills, both at European and different national levels. During the session, our special guest, Ulrike Domany-Funtan, Secretary General at fit4internet, presented  DigComp 2.2 AT, a specific framework applied to Austria’s local policy that works in collaboration with the national government to ensure that basic digital competencies are correctly represented within the country. This national initiative included a foundation and access competence to the European Digital Competence Framework, becoming a milestone not only for the local but for the regional agenda. Throughout the session, members of our Community of Practice from different EU countries shared their experiences and obstacles around vulnerable groups’ underrepresentation in current frameworks. As the experiences had a lot in common, all the participants consensed the importance of better representing vulnerable groups and their lower levels of digital skills through a regional framework that considers them.
 
Silvano de Marte, Communications & Community Engagement Officer from DigiCo, opened the session by welcoming our participant members, followed by a short round of introductions. We had five countries represented in the session: Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Austria and Nigeria. Silvano de Marte then presented the European Digital Competence Framework 2.2 (DigComp), analysed its scope and pinpointed its representation issues: this framework currently lacks representation of individuals at the lower foundational level, especially those who lack a basic understanding of digitalisation and access to digital devices – which are prerequisites for individuals to lead a decent life, actively participate in society, have access to decent jobs and advance into sustainable careers. This underrepresentation is an urgent matter that needs to be addressed in European policy frameworks and requires the collaboration of social and economic stakeholders to guarantee no one is left behind. 
 
After the introduction, Ulrike Domany-Funtan, Secretary General at fit4internet, presented DigComp 2.2 AT: the DigComp national adaptation in Austria. By looking into vulnerable groups that are still not part of the digital world, the NGO fit4internet collaborated with the national Government to find the right tool to make digital competencies understandable for everyone. By working with experts, they detected that the European Digital Competence Framework 2.1 at that time needed some amendments to work for the Austrian societal needs. Therefore, in 2019, they published the Austrian adaptation to this framework, called  DigComp 2.2 AT, which added a Foundations and access competency area 0 into the analysis, among other amendments (written in blue in the following chart):
 
 
During her presentation, Ulrike Domany-Funtan highlighted the importance of aligning all stakeholders over the relevance the digital competency framework has for them. For DigComp 2.2 AT, a co-created multidisciplinary approach and a highly iterative process to understand what their market needed were two of the main success factors. A multidisciplinary task force was created to administer the process of bringing together all the different players and working on the DigComp and its implementation. For closing up, Ulrike Domany-Funtan also presented the future amendments that the new DigComp 2.3 AT will bring to the table based on the current developments. 
 
The exchange session ended with a common understanding that members of our Community share the objective of working together to achieve this broader representation at a regional level. In this sense, the Austrian experience works as a benchmark in our regional advocacy to amplify the representation level of DigComp. DigiCo, as a European-level partner and a network organisation inside the Community, DigiCo, actively advocates for this matter. Therefore, this session put into perspective the urgent need to join voices and efforts for ensuring the representation of lower fundamental basic digital skills at the European level and include literacy and access levels when measuring and promoting digital skills training.

Replay “A European basic digital skills policy”: