Representatives of governments, industry, academia, NGOs and other key actors across Europe call on Member States and the European Commission to join forces and work together against digital skills gap and to empower the citizens.

Europe in the digital era Conference
Europe in the digital era Conference. 2016. Font: Asociación Comunidad de Redes de Telecentros.

On 18 and 19 October, the Conference "Europe in the digital era" brought together more than 200 policy makers, business leaders and experts in Bratislava, Slovakia, in the framework of the campaign eSkills for Jobs. They analyzed the results of the campaign and launched the Bratislava Declaration: Digital skills making the difference.

The campaign eSkills for Jobs, launched by the European Commission in 2010, has helped to reduce the gap in the EU between demand and supply of digital skills jobs. When the campaign was launched, they thought that the lack of ICT specialists by 2020 would be one million professionals and now this has been reduced to 756,000. During these years, there have been more than 5,500 events in all Member States of the European Union, with the assistance of 3.4 million people. Multimedia campaigns aimed at young people, professionals and politicians have reached millions of people and have contributed to the promotion of digital careers.

However, the Deputy Director General of the European Commission DG GROW, Antti Peltomäki, said in the conference that "this has been a great journey and very good progress has been made but we have not yet reached the destination". He added that "there is still a skills gap to be plugged and it is now up to the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and Member States to play an even more important role to achieve our ambitions by 2020".

In this context, participants in the conference presented the Bratislava Delcaration: digital skills making the difference, calling on Member States to join efforts to take action in these eight directions:
 
  1. Foster digital skills training programmes 
  2. Harness industry-led education 
  3. Accelerate the encouragement of labour mobility for digital jobs 
  4. Bolster national Digital Skills and Jobs Coalitions
  5. Raise awareness of the role played by key enabling technologies in the EU’s digital single market and the digital career opportunities available
  6. Foster ICT professionalism and maturing the ICT profession in Europe
  7. Ensure availability of EU funds dedicated to upskilling initiatives and training platforms at EU level
  8. Inspire girls to pursue IT studies and careers and encourage better gender balance by promoting a stronger role of women
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