Friday, 28 January 2011

e-Skills in the 21st Century

In October of 2010, Empirica issued a report evaluating the implementation of the Communication of the European Commission on "e-Skills for the 21st Century" (adopted in September 2007). Key findings include:
  • the number of ICT practitioners in Europe has been growing over the past decades and will continue to grow in the future;
  • the number of computer science graduates was growing in the past, but has been in continuous decline in Europe since 2005;
  • 198 million European citizens still do not have any ICT user skills and are some distance away from being digitally literate;
  • the high level of activity of the European Commission is rated very positively by experts throughout Europe;
  • some Member States had already been active with e-skills initiatives and strategies at the time when the Communication was adopted, other had plans to do so but most Member States did not have any concrete plans for action.
The study concludes:
"With respect to e-skills several countries including Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Portugal could benefit from further policy and other relevant activities in the e-skills area which would help them to improve their current position. Countries like Hungary, Latvia but to some extent also Poland and Romania have obviously rather recently started to respond to the ‘e-skills’ challenges in their countries, increased the activity level, are on the right track but have not yet achieved the benefits of these activities or are not under severe pressure compared to other countries with much higher e-skills gaps.
Ireland, Belgium and Malta from the ‘followers’ group show very high ‘eskills’ activity levels which are needed to compensate for the very large eskills gaps in these countries relative to their workforce. These countries seem to be on a good track. The same holds true for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom and partially also for Germany from the ‘frontrunners’ group. However, in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Estonia one would have expected higher level of ‘e-skills’ activity levels since most of these countries still have rather significant ICT practitioners' skills gaps.
The digital literacy activity levels are higher than those relating specifically to ICT practitioners' skills. However, there are still countries with rather low levels of digital literacy among the population and at the same time low digital literacy activity levels. These most notably are Bulgaria and Italy but also the Czech Republic where this is likely to have a continuously negative effect since in these countries belong to the less well performing countries on ‘digital literacy’ in Europe. Similarly low activity levels can be identified in
Luxembourg and Ireland which may not have such drastic impacts since both countries are ranking 10th and 11th on the NRI in Europe Finally, in Sweden and Finland high levels of digital literacy of the population
have been achieved and as a consequence no or only little further action is urgently required in this specific area which is also reflected in the rather low ‘digital literacy’ activity levels in these countries.
While national government activities (where they occur) and those of the ICT industry are also well recognised, our survey has shown that satisfaction with their status of implementation and achievements are lower compared to those of the efforts of the European Commission which leaves substantial room for improvement.
Several national governments still need to reach higher levels of activity and ICT industry should turn to the further development (scalability) and improvement (sustainability) of activities started including for example the
European e-skills and career portal and the e-Skills Industry Leadership Board to act as the key actor at industry level in Europe in this area".

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