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New initiative seeks to boost Europe's digital skills

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New initiative seeks to boost Europe's digital skills

Tibor Navracsics - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission adopted Wednesday new initiatives to improve key and digital competences of European citizens and to promote common values and pupils' awareness of the functioning of the EU.

The new proposals are intended to reduce socio-economic inequalities, whilst sustaining competitiveness in order to build a more united, stronger and more democratic Europe.

"Europe's education and training systems need to give people from all backgrounds the right competences to progress and prosper professionally, but also enable them to be engaged citizens," said Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport: "We need to harness the potential of education to foster social cohesion and a sense of belonging."

"The digital skills gap is real," added Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for The Digital Economy and Society: "While 90% of future jobs require some level of digital literacy, 44% of Europeans lack basic digital skills. The Digital Education Action Plan we propose today will help Europeans, educational institutions and education systems to better adapt to life and work in increasingly digital societies."

The three initiatives proposed by the Commission are:

1. A Council Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning: Building on the Recommendation on Key Competences adopted in 2006, this proposal brings forward important updates reflecting the rapid evolution of teaching and learning since then. It aims to improve the development of key competences of people of all ages throughout their lives and to provide guidance to Member States on how to achieve this objective. A particular focus is placed on promoting entrepreneurial drive and innovation-oriented mindsets in order to unlock personal potential, creativity and self-initiative. Moreover, the Commission is recommending steps to foster competences in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and motivate more young people to embark on a career in these fields. The proposals made today should also be seen as part of the answer to urgently improve European education systems to face the many challenges highlighted in the latest PISA survey. More generally, the measures will support Member States in better preparing learners for changing labour markets and for active citizenship in more diverse, mobile, digital and global societies.

2. A Digital Education Action Plan that outlines how the EU can help people, educational institutions and education systems better adapt to life and work in an age of rapid digital change by:

  • making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning;

  • developing the digital competences and skills needed for living and working in an age of digital transformation; and

  • improving education through better data analysis and foresight.

Initiatives include supporting schools with high-speed broadband connections, scaling up a new self-assessment tool for schools on the use of technology for teaching and learning (SELFIE) and a public awareness campaign on online safety, media literacy and cyber hygiene.

3. A Council Recommendation on common values, inclusive education and the European dimension of teaching: This initiative proposes ways in which education can help young people understand the importance of and adhere to common values set out in Article 2 of the Treaty of the European Union. It aims at strengthening social cohesion and contributing to fight the rise of populism, xenophobia, divisive nationalism and the spreading of fake news. The proposal also strengthens inclusive education to promote quality education for all pupils as well as the European dimension of teaching, so children also learn about Europe's common heritage and diversity and get a good understanding of the functioning of the EU. To support these aims, the Commission will take steps to increase virtual exchanges among schools, notably through the successful e-Twinning network, and boost school mobility through the Erasmus+ programme.

Education and training initiatives - background guide

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