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Results of the study “Evaluation of the Implementation of the Communication on e-Skills for the 21st Century” delivered to the European Commission

29 October 2010 – The results of the study "Evaluation of the Implementation of the Communication on e-Skills for the 21st Century" have been delivered to the European Commission. The study provides an overview of national and European policies, initiatives and activities, multi-stakeholder partnerships of industry, associations, training organisations, trade unions, and other actors and further activities. It included initiatives with respect to formal and industry-based education and dealt with e-skills which include "ICT user skills" (in particular digital literacy of citizens) and "ICT practitioner skills" and "e-business skills".

The study has been carried out against the background of an increasing lack of e-skills in the European workforce resulting in a growing shortage of highly qualified ICT practitioners on the one hand and still insufficient digital literacy levels among workers and citizens in many countries which is acting as a barrier to economic growth, competitiveness and employment in these countries on the other.

The study objective was to perform an evaluation of the implementation of the Communication on "e-Skills for the 21st Century" with a focus on ICT practitioner skills and 'digital literacy.

Since e-skills shortages in the European workforce will result in an excess demand for ICT practitioners of 384,000 in 2015 insufficient digital literacy level among citizens will act as a barrier to growth and employment. 198 million European citizens still do not have any ICT user skills and are some distance away from being digitally literate.

The Member States had different starting points at the time of the adoption of the Communication. Since then the Commission has launched a series of well targeted actions which are rated very positively by experts throughout Europe. Some Member States had already been active with policies to promote and foster 'digital literacy' but there is a huge variation of activities by national governments and other stakeholders. In some Member States national e-skills strategy and implementation are still in their infancy. Frontrunners are Sweden, Finland and Denmark.

Implementation takes time and further efforts are required to translate all Member States commitments into practice. Several national governments still need to reach higher levels of activity and ICT industry should further develop activities started. Expert satisfaction with the status of implementation and the achievements of national activities are lower when comparing these to those of the European Commission. Visibility of results needs to be improved to create a larger-scale impact and activities need to be undertaken at a much larger scale and to be allocated significantly more resources to have a necessary stronger impact. A stronger focus on "e-leadership skills" is needed which can best be defined as "a new 'hybrid' of technology and business skills sets".

Widespread mistrust could be identified in the commitment of politicians to foster the longer term e-skills policies needed for the transformation of our workforce and economy. However, a longer-term commitment is needed otherwise no decisive impacts will be achieved.

The recommendations given by the study team include the need for a continuous monitoring of progress and better coordination and synchronisation with the activities of the Member States and other stakeholders.

The study report can be downloaded: (pdf, 2093 KB)