EfVET & The Skills Partnership for the Digital Ecosystem

“(…) need to unlock the potential of digital technologies for learning and teaching and to develop digital skills for all” – President Ursula von der Leyen

 (in Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027)

Context

The call to join forces in a collective action through the Pact for Skills is one of the four building blocks of the 12 actions of the new European Skills Agenda (which complements the European Digital Strategy and the Strategy for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), and is embedded in the framework of the Recovery Plan for Europe).

Since the  Pact for Skills was launched on November 10th, 2020, by the European Commission (EC), more than 550 organisations have committed to join a community promoting quality investment in skills for all working age people across the European Union. Since then, a 14 large -scale skills partnerships have been established in key industrial ecosystems (tourism: agri-food: footwear: aerospace; microelectronics; textiles, automotive and etc). Together these alliances are creating up and reskilling opportunities for close 6 million working-age people across Europe.

The European Pillar of Social Rights is a Charter that outlines a shared vision from individual companies or other private or public organisations, regional or local partnerships and industrial ecosystems or cross-sectoral partnerships (i.e., stakeholders that may join and sign the Pact) on what quality training should be.

This shared vision is translated into four key principles, which all signatories of the Pact for Skills agree to respect and uphold:

  1. Promoting a culture of lifelong learning for all;
  2. Building strong skills partnerships;
  3. Monitoring skills supply/demand and anticipating skills needs; and
  4. Working against discrimination and for gender equality and equal opportunities.

The Pact aims to mobilise resources to invest in skills and to set up a shared engagement model between the various signatories to collectively take action to up/reskill the workforce in all 14 industrial ecosystems identified in the New Industrial Strategy (2021), of which the Digital Ecosystem is part:

Figure 1 The 14 industrial ecosystems, according to the New Industrial Strategy (2021)

By signing the Pact for Skills, the EC supports all signatories (or Pact members) through dedicated services, such as:

  • Networking hub, to support them in finding partners, to promote the activities of the Pact members and to provide links with existing EU tools;
  • Knowledge hub, to foster the implementation of webinars, seminars and other peer learning activities and to provide information on EU policies, projects, tools and best practices;
  • Guidance and resources hub, to provide information on relevant EU funding opportunities (including the Recovery and Resilience Facility), guidance to identify financial possibilities and facilitate the exchange between the Pact members and national/regional authorities.

The Digital Ecosystem: A brief overview

The Digital Ecosystem includes three main subsectors that have a considerable added value and weight on employment rates within the EU:

  1. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) manufacturing;
  2. ICT services (excluding telecommunications);
  3. Telecommunications.

The aftermath of the global pandemic, allied to the current global tensions, have a negative impact on investments which may hamper the deployment of strategical digital capabilities such as Cybersecurity, Supercomputing/High Performance Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – technologies that are indispensable for the growth, competitiveness and strategic autonomy of the European economy in general, and SMEs, large enterprises and public services in particular.

Moreover, the Digital Ecosystem takes an important role as digital skills are a crucial part of economic activities within all other industrial ecosystems’ value chains. There is a high demand for digital technologies and infrastructures, and connectivity in the EU is improving with businesses taking up digital solutions and citizens using more digital tools. However, significant variations still exist across sectors and gaps related to digital skills (key enabler of digitalisation) must be tackled through upskilling and reskilling initiatives under the Pact for Skills.

The basis for the creation of the Large-Scale Skills Partnership for the Digital Ecosystem

On June 2022, the representatives from the DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs contacted several stakeholders part of the Digital Ecosystem, including EfVET, in the scope of the Digital Pact for Skills initiative.

The aim of this contact was to share a Partnership document elaborated with the results from a series of meetings, workshops and discussions held with some of those stakeholders to collect relevant ideas and inputs, outlining the main challenges, ambitions and actions to be taken by the Large-Scale Partnership in the Digital Industries Ecosystem to be created under the Pact for Skills.

The purpose of creating this Large-Scale Skills Partnership (also referred to as “Digital Partnership”) was to allow its members to exchange knowledge and best practices and have opportunities not only to better structure and develop the objectives of their individual projects and initiatives to upskill and reskill the workforce in the Digital Ecosystem, but also to search for suitable funding opportunities and to create potential synergies among those individual projects.

Thus, this Partnership document aimed to be a framework of principles and challenges that the members of the Large-Scale Skills Partnership would share by signing it, and it was now being shared with all Digital Ecosystem stakeholders for them to confirm their interest in being part of the Digital Partnership.

EfVET and the Large – Scale Skills Partnership for the Digital Ecosystem

Acknowledging the importance of the Digital Pact for Skills initiative to its Members, EfVET was quick to present to DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs its willingness to be one of the signatory organisations of the Digital Pact for Skills.

As such, after analysing the Partnership document ensuring its principles and challenges were aligned with EfVET Strategies and Policies, and with its Members’ best interests, Arja Flinkman (EfVET Vice-President for Policy) signed the document, formalising EfVET inclusion on the Large-Scale Skills Partnership for the Digital Ecosystem.

Launch of the EU Pact for Skills – Large-Scale Skills Partnership in the Digital Ecosystem

July 18th 2022 marks a new achievement within the Pact for Skills initiative: the launch of the Large-Scale Skills Partnership in the Digital Ecosystem, with the support from the EC.

The final Partnership document was signed by 58 associations, companies, VET providers, trade unions, universities and national federations. In addition to the current challenges faced by the Digital Ecosystem, the document also points out the ambitions for the Ecosystem under the Pact for Skills and set specific key performance indicators to help monitoring the commitment of all signatories, including EfVET, to develop a common initiative under the Large-Scale Skills Partnership, which include (among others):

  • The number of persons being trained within the digital industry in their respective country;
  • The participation of women in upskilling and reskilling activities;
  • The number of students participating to summers schools/educational activities on new advanced technology (e.g., blockchain, data, AI, robotics);
  • Trainings offered in advanced digital technologies and the percentage of people employed as direct effect of such activities.

The Skills Partnership for the Digital Ecosystem agreement is available for public consultation, here.

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