The Commission adopted two proposals for a Council Recommendation in the context of the European Year of Skills, with the aim to support Member States and the education and training sector in providing high-quality, inclusive and accessible digital education and training to develop the digital skills of European citizens.
The proposals address the two main common challenges jointly identified by the Commission and EU Member States: 1) the lack of a whole-of-government approach to digital education and training, and 2) difficulties in equipping people with the necessary digital skills.
Strengthening key enabling factors
Despite progress and some excellent examples of innovation, combined efforts have so far not resulted in systemic digital transformation in education and training. Member States still struggle to attain sufficient levels of investment in digital education and training infrastructure, equipment and digital education content, digital training (up-skilling) of teachers and staff, and monitoring and evaluation of digital education and training policies.
The proposal for a “Council Recommendation on the key enabling factors for successful digital education and training” calls on all Member States to ensure universal access to inclusive and high-quality digital education and training, to address the digital divide, which has become even more apparent in the light of the COVID-19 crisis. This could be achieved by creating a coherent framework of investment, governance and teacher training for effective and inclusive digital education. It proposes guidance and action that Member States can pursue to implement a whole-of-government and multi-stakeholder approach as well as a culture of bottom-up innovation and digitalisation led by education and training staff.
Improving digital skills teaching
The second common challenge identified relates to the varying levels of digital skills within different segments of the population, and the ability of national education and training systems to address these differences. The proposal for a “Council Recommendation on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training” tackles each level of education and training. It calls on Member States to start early by providing digital skills in a coherent way through all levels of education and training. This can be ensured by establishing incremental objectives and setting up targeted interventions for specific ‘priority or hard-to-reach groups’. The proposal calls on Member States to support high quality informatics in schools, to mainstream the development of digital skills for adults, and to address shortages in information technology professions by adopting inclusive strategies.
The Commission stands ready to support the implementation of both proposals by facilitating mutual learning and exchanges among Member States and all relevant stakeholders through EU instruments, such as the Technical Support Instrument. The Commission also promotes digital education and skills through cooperation within the European Digital Education Hub and through EU funding, such as Erasmus+ and the Digital Europe Programme, the Just Transition Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, Horizon Europe, and NDICI-Global Europe.
Pilot for a European Digital Skills Certificate
A key action by the Commission will be facilitating the recognition of certification of digital skills. To this end, the Commission will run a pilot project of the European Digital Skills Certificate together with several Member States. The certificate aims to enhance the trust in and acceptance of digital skills certification across the EU. This will help people have their digital skills recognised widely, quickly and easily by employers, training providers and more. The results of the pilot will be presented as part of a feasibility study on the European Digital Skills Certificate towards year-end. The final European Digital Skills Certificate will be rolled out in 2024 based on the pilot’s outcomes and the study’s findings.
The Commission calls on Member States to swiftly adopt the proposals for two Council Recommendations.
Building on the successful Structured Dialogue and the group of national coordinators, the Commission will set up a High-Level Group on Digital Education and Skills to support the implementation of the two Recommendations.