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World Youth Skills Day 2019 – Addressing the digital skills gap in Europe

Monday, 15 July 2019 marks World Youth Skills Day (WYSD), organised by the United Nations (more specifically the Permanent Missions of Portugal and Sri Lanka, UNESCO, ILO and the Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth). This year, UNESCO's theme is "Learning to learn for life and work".

There are 1.2 billion young people aged 15-24 in the world, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. Yet, according to the UN, young people are almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. Moreover, young women are even more likely to be underemployed and under-paid, and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.

In addition, the ongoing digital transformation is revolutionising the type of skills needed in the economy and society. According to the European Commission (EC), it is leading to the need for more skilled ICT professionals in all sectors of the economy (as it is estimated that there will 500,000 unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals in 2020); the need for digital skills for nearly all jobs where ICT complements existing tasks; as well as the need for every citizen to have at least basic digital skills in order to live, work, learn and participate in the modern society – which 44 per cent of Europeans do not currently have, according to EC estimates.

Therefore, there is a digital skills gap in Europe, underpinned by the need for European countries to modernise their education and training systems, which currently do not prepare young people sufficiently for the digital economy and society.

One Europe-wide initiative to remediate such issue is the setting up of the Insafe network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs), which strives to provide all young Europeans with the digital and media literacy skills they need to make the most of the opportunities offered in the digital economy and society, while mitigating potential adverse effects.

Moreover, the EC adopted the new Skills Agenda for Europe in June 2016. In that framework, ten actions were launched to make the right training, skills and support available to people in the EU. As part of this, the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition was launched in December 2016 to support cooperation among all education stakeholders to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.

For more information, visit the United Nation's website and, and keep an eye on #wysd2019 on Twitter.

  • Type: Youth
  • Date:15/07/2019
  • Author:BIK Team