The first step towards remedying the digital skills gap is measurement to bring about awareness and support coordinated efforts to promote digital skills and jobs. Since 2014, the progress towards a digital economy and society is measured in every EU member according to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) and the Digital Skills Index (DSI). However, the 2015 study on Harmonisation of the Digital Markets in the Eastern Partnerships, which assessed the readiness of digital markets in the Eastern Neighbourhood region for harmonisation and integration with the EU’s Digital Single Market, found a lack of systematic measurement of the digital skills gap across the region.
The EU4Digital Programme will support the measurement of digital skills through the development of a common methodology aligned with EU practices for the Eastern Neighbourhood region.
The coordination of initiatives related to digital skills, awareness raising and the adoption and sharing of best practices will be enhanced by the establishment of national coalitions for digital skills and jobs in the Eastern partner countries and inclusion of the region in Europe’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. Currently, national coalitions have been established in three partner countries – Armenia (2017), Ukraine (2019) and Azerbaijan (2020) – while Moldova and Georgia are on their way.
The EU4Digital Programme supports the establishment of national coalitions in the Eastern partner countries.
Finally, the development of digital skills among the workforce of microbusinesses and SMEs is of vital importance. SMEs are key for economies in the region as they account for 99% of all companies, though they represent just 57% of private sector employment. By contrast, in the EU, SMEs represent a significant driver of employment (85% of new employment is created by SMEs). To harness their full potential, entrepreneurial and fast-growing SMEs in the Eastern partner countries will require multiple digital savvy competences, such as big data analytics and tools, cloud computing and visualisation, mobile app design and development, web development and tools, IT architecture, and security skills.
The EU4Digital Programme will support the improvement of digital skills of SMEs through the development of a common Digital Competence Framework for SMEs and microbusinesses in the Eastern Neighbourhood region based on EU Digital Competence Frameworks.