The Digital Decade is the European Commission forward-looking strategic vision for the development of the digital economy and the transformation of European businesses by 2030. The plan, presented by the European Commission on 9 March 2021, aims to support a prosperous digital future for all. The Digital Decade vision and avenues for the future are also part of Europe’s Digital Compass, a framework to monitor the progress towards the 2030 targets and milestones, whilst supporting a robust governance structure, monitoring system and multi-country projects involving stakeholders and investors from the EU, Member States and industry and private sector.
To achieve the targets outlined within the Digital Decade strategic communication, actions are structured around 4 cardinal points: digital skills, digital transformation of businesses, secure and sustainable digital infrastructures and digitalisation of public services.
The Digital Decade: digital skills for all by 2030
The EU will launch actions to increase the number of qualified and competent Information and communication technology (ICT) professionals and train more digital experts to reach 20 million ICT professionals in Europe (in 2019, ICT specialists in Europe were 7.8 million or 4% of the total workforce). Strategic actions on skills also include the bridging of gender and diversity gaps in the technology sector and initiatives targeting women’s career prospects in the field (the IT sector in Europe has one of the highest levels of gender disparity – in 2019, 82.1% of ICT specialists were men).
With the increased dependence on technology, digital competences and skills have become essential to participate in society, take advantage of digital public services, and remain competitive in the labour market. By 2030, 80% of European citizens should possess at least a basic level of digital skills.
The Digital Decade is part of the wider strategic priority of the European Commission: ensuring that Europe is fit for the digital age. As a strategic initiative, it underpins and complements a variety of recent actions by the EU institutions (Digital Education Action Plan, Digital Europe Programme, the Recovery and Resilience Facility) that aim to promote the upskilling of citizens and businesses.
The Path to the Digital Decade Policy Programme
The Communication proposed to agree on a set of digital principles, to launch rapidly important multi-country projects, and to prepare a legislative proposal setting out a robust governance through a monitoring and cooperation mechanism with Member States, to ensure progress – the Policy Programme “Path to the Digital Decade (‘Policy Programme’)”.
To this end, the “Path to the Digital Decade” sets out the concrete digital targets which the Union as a whole is expected to achieve by the end of the decade, as first delineated in the Digital Compass Communication. It then sets out a novel form of governance with Member States, through a mechanism of annual cooperation between the Unions institutions and the Member States to ensure that the Union jointly achieves its ambition.
While of course aiming at endowing the whole population of the European Union with basic digital skills, following the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, and Digital Education Action Plan, the “Path to the Digital Decade” projects the target for those aged 16-74 with at least basic digital skills to 80% in 2030. Moreover, digital training and education should support a workforce in which people can acquire specialised digital skills to get quality jobs and rewarding
In addition, addressing the major shortage of cybersecurity skills in the EU workforce will be essential, as an important component of protecting the EU against cyber threats. Therefore, in addition to the target on basic digital skills established in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, the EU shall have a target of 20 million employed Information and Communication Technologies specialists in the EU, with convergence between women and men.