Digital Skills: Mind the gap

On 10 June 2016 the European Commission published a New Skills Agenda for Europe: Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness. It presents a number of actions and initiatives with the ambition to tackle the digital skills deficit in Europe.

Digital economy is recognised to be one of the main sources of growth for the coming decade. The spread of digital is having a massive impact on the labour market and the type of skills needed in the economy and society. Yet, Eurostat reports that only a little more than half the European population (age 16-74) possesses basic or above basic digital skills (i.e. using the internet for information, communication, problem solving, content creation).

Furthermore, education systems in Europe seem to fail to train enough IT-specialists, data-scientists or even to provide young workers with basic digital skills, and Europe seems to be falling behind when it comes to creating a sustainable start-up ecosystem or investing strategically in Artificial Intelligence.

Beyond data-analytics skills, other talents are needed to ensure that the AI revolution remains beneficial for citizens across Europe. Training in economics, sociology, political science, psychology and ethics are needed to maintain social cohesion, question algorithmic decision making, and align AI systems with societal values.

EURACTIV and Microsoft organised a lively debate to discuss digital skills and AI’s impact on the labour force. Questions included:

  • Is Europe equipped to capitalize on the AI revolution?
  • Are we ‘skill-ready’ for Industry 4.0?
  • Does the ‘Digital Divide’ really matter? Does everyone need digital skills to compete in the new economy?
  • On balance, will AI create jobs, or destroy jobs?
  • What will be the profile of a digitally literate employee for 2030?


Click here to watch the full conference

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