The EU4Digital Facility has published the ‘Methodology for Measuring and Forecasting Digital Skills Gaps in Eastern partner countries’. The Methodology contains a summary of current Eastern partner country digital skills gaps measurement and forecasting practices, and recommendations for the introduction of a common measurement and forecasting methodology aligned with EU practices.
Digital skills are not only a necessity for ICT specialists and companies undergoing digital transformation, but are rapidly becoming vital for every citizen to successfully take part in the digital economy and society. In their 2016 initiative, ‘Upskilling Pathways: New Opportunities for Adults’ the Council of the European Union stated that digital competence is as important as literacy and numeracy. Lack of digital literacy and skills can be a significant excluding factor for many people limiting and/or preventing the productivity gains possible through ICT take-up.
However, increasing digital literacy and remedying skills gaps starts with the identification of the problem. Digital skills measurement is key for evidence-based identification of digital skills gaps and targeted planning of digital competence improvement initiatives. Measurement can also support monitoring the progress of digital skills area objectives.
In the EU, the Digital Economy and Society index (DESI) is used to monitor the performance of EU Member States in digital connectivity, digital skills, online activity, the digitisation of businesses and digital public services. DESI measures EU country progress towards a digital economy and society, including the area of human capital, since 2014. The human capital dimension of DESI measures the skills required to utilise the possibilities enabled by digital solutions. Moreover, several ICT in workforce and education indicators are also regularly measured in the EU, presenting additional digital skills data. Harmonised data measurement makes it possible to compare the progress among EU Member States, to identify skills gaps and assess the impact of regional and national initiatives.
The objective of the EU4Digital Facility was to assess the current state of digital skills measurement and forecasting and to develop recommendations for alignment with EU practices. The published Methodology contains a set of regional recommendations to improve data collection and forecasting across Eastern partner countries.
The Methodology concludes that all Eastern partner countries collect some digital skills data and have expressed an interest in further aligning measurement and forecasting practices to EU methodologies.
Further expansion of the set of indicators and improvement of cross-country comparability could bring significant added value for benchmarking progress with other countries in the Eastern partnership region. Comparability would be enabled by alignment of data collection methods, including sampling, survey design, and data classification.
Furthermore, digital skills needs anticipation takes place in various forms throughout the region, including skills surveys, general labour force forecasts, and qualitative methods, such as expert working groups. However, future digital skills needs are not currently assessed on a regional level or through a common approach, which could provide a powerful input for improving education and training system responsiveness to the increasing need of different types and levels of digital competences.
However, the report also identifies a number of prerequisites that need to be in place before a common methodology can be established across Eastern partner countries, such as capacity building of personnel involved in data collection and analysis, and the need for sufficient resource allocation for implementing nationwide surveys, data analysis and forecasting.
The published report can be found here.