One of the key instruments we need to boost digital skills are partnerships on all levels and between all stakeholders – business, schools universities, research centres and the institutions.
“A remarkable new invention can’t transform society until society has learned how to use it effectively”, writes Ryan Avent who is the economics editor of the Economist and together with whom we took part in a key event that launched the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition.
The Coalition is a tiny little revolution within the digital revolution that marks the understanding of all business sectors, and not only the ICT companies, that digital skills are the currency of the future societies.
According to predictions made by the International Data Corporation, by 2020, 50 percent of the G2000 (The Forbes Global 2000 is an annual ranking of the top 2,000 public companies in the world by Forbes magazine) will see that the majority of their business depend on their ability to create digitally enhanced products, services, and experiences.
Additionally, by year-end 2017, over 70 percent of the G500 will have dedicated digital transformation and innovation teams.
Already today, 70% of all jobs require at least moderate levels of digital skills – a number that will raise up to 90% in the coming few years.
In this situation the worst we can do is to leave education systems alone in supplying new, skilled labour force for the current demand.
That is why one of the instruments we need are partnerships on all levels and between all stakeholders – business, schools universities, research centres and the institutions.
As we have experienced in the past, labour markets can sustain a lot of digital disruption. Nobody was in favour of innovations back in the day when the industrial revolution was happening.
Although some industries were worse off, those who did innovate back then, were the ones who later were in need of new type of labour force.
This new demand made people start skilling up themselves and applying for the new type of work. This is why I think we need to invest in skills and partnerships between businesses, schools and universities and policy-makers, so we align the supply and demand of skilled workers. This is the way we can make the best out of the occurring transition.
Picture credits: clement127
In order for the Digital Single Market to live up to its full potential, we need to open up and re-think old models, and thoroughly change our mind-set. An excellent example of such a forward-thinking, inclusive and transformative tool is the model of open innovation.
Working for the benefit of citizens and businesses has always been the EU’s driving philosophy and nothing makes a stronger case for that than our efforts towards the completion of the EU’s Digital Single Market (DSM).
We are proud to have laid the groundwork for the timely and successful implementation of the European Commission’s DSM Strategy, a key project expected to add an estimated 500 billion euro to the European economy and provide a substantial boost to job creation.
In order for the DSM to live up to its full potential, we need holistic introduction and support processes that involve all stakeholders equally.
We need to open up and re-think old models, and thoroughly change our mind-set. An excellent example of such a forward-thinking, inclusive and transformative tool is the model of open innovation.
Open Innovation 2.0 (OI2) is a new paradigm based on principles of integrated collaboration, co-creation of shared value, cultivation of innovative ecosystems, unleashing exponential technologies, and extraordinarily rapid adoption. I see the DSM the same way – a collaborative space for consumers, NGOs, the public and the private sectors to all benefit from.
OI2 is revolutionary in that it allows citizens to have an active role in the innovation process – to work together with industry, academia and the public sector to come up with new ideas and stretch the boundaries of technology and societal behaviour to create new markets, products and services.
All of this happens accessibly and in real time, including prototyping and experimentation to determine each idea’s potential for upscaling, thereby transforming consumers into co-creators.
Such an open and transparent ecosystem, however, also poses its own challenges around the assessment and protection of intellectual capital and the establishment of trust and cooperation.
OI2 enables Europeans to deliver the highest and most innovative results by leveraging all the talent and resources of the community. And as supporters of OI2 like to say ‘innovation can be a discipline practiced by many, rather than an art mastered by few’.
We need to combine and double down on our efforts in order to strengthen stakeholders’ trust in a modern, future-proof and sustainable framework for Digital Europe; to uphold the rights of all online consumers and introduce policies that support entrepreneurship and innovation.
The Digital Single Market is a machine made up of many different parts, with innovation at its core. It wouldn’t work at full speed if some or any of these parts were not working harmoniously with each other. It will also not work if innovation is not protected and incentivised. It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure it does.
This contribution was originally published in the Open Innovation Newsletter (special December 2015 edition) of European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology.
Photo Credit: Daniel Foster
In a few years e-skills would be considered “life skills” and digital competence will be a defining factor for professional accomplishment. So, why not investing in developing digital skills along with entrepreneurial skills from as early stage as primary school?
‘The web as I envisaged it – we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past’. These are the words of Tim Barners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web and the person ultimately responsible for all the cat pictures in your life.
It takes a remarkable lack of imagination not to realise that, where technology is concerned, the world we live in today is but a enticing preview of what’s to come in ten, twenty or fifty years’ time. Unlike past generations, who have had to sit in their analogue reality and fantasise about the unattainable and distant future of Star Wars, we have the opportunity to live technological advancement and breakthrough in real time – and to make the smart choice of embracing it before it is too late.
Given the urgent, relentless digitalisation of every aspects of our lives, it is not unreasonable to view e-skills and digital literacy as the defining competencies of tomorrow’s labour market. The Digital Age has and continues to alter the global business landscape beyond recognition – entrepreneurship now goes hand in hand with media and technological savvy, a process that’s likely to accelerate if anything, and any entrepreneur who wants to succeed in this new climate has to be able to adapt and change as they go along. The days of business as usual are well and truly over.
And what is entrepreneurship, in its broader sense, if not the ability to turn ideas into actions? It is not only the main driver of economic growth and job creation but, in the case of social entrepreneurship – of social cohesion and sustainability, boosting the economy while tackling societal issues on a regional, national or even worldwide scale. Digital technology is the single most powerful tool we have ever had at our disposal it is exciting to see a new generation of social
entrepreneurs use it in imaginative ways to, quite literally, change the world.
So why not invest in developing those vital digital and entrepreneurial skills as early as primary school? A new report by the Digital Skills Committee in the UK suggests that while embedding digital learning throughout the education system is a great long-term solution, “there is also a clear need to enhance digital capabilities in the shorter term.”
European leaders are slowly but surely coming to terms with the importance of ensuring the next generation of entrepreneurs are well-versed in ICT and able to fully employ the potential of the digital world to shape the world around them. By introducing its Digital Skills Policy and the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, the European Commission is aiming to support and encourage stakeholders to make better use of European funding to address the digital skills deficit.
Europe faces a number of serious challenges that are only to be overcome by an innovative, digitally savvy and entrepreneurial society; by people who, regardless of their profession or background, have the curiosity and drive to think in new ways, as well as the fortitude to stand up for and work towards what they believe is right. There is no single universal solution to the issues we are confronted with today, but having a shared vision and investing time, effort and resources in building a strong e-skills and entrepreneurial capacity in the next generation is a huge step in the right direction. Pictures of cats will always follow.
photo credit: Marc Biarnès
There is no argument that the legal framework protecting copyright needs an update for the information age. The new Commission’s proposal, which will be launched in the beginning of 2016, should strike a balance between the interests of service users, distributors and copyright holders, and make sure that Europe’s cultural landscape remain innovative while artists receive due compensation for their work.
Do you remember the time, not so long ago, when one would jab a pencil or a pen in, manually rewinding cassette tapes to save a little battery power? Or how some of us would spend hours compiling and copying mixtapes of our favourite songs to share with friends and loved ones?
Many among us don’t. They have grown up with the privilege of access to digital files, to music and news freely available on all of their devices, all of the time. They have no concept of the long path we’ve travelled to get where we are today.
Copying data is a simple process these days – it takes literally a few seconds. Roughly 130 000 video clips are being uploaded to YouTube any moment and online content is being generated by over 83 million users a day in the EU alone. And that’s with the so-called ‘app’ economy still firmly in its infancy.
It is a fundamentally different world to the one we know from 2001, when the EU Copyright Directive was first introduced. There is no argument that the legal framework protecting copyright needs an update for the information age, and this is exactly what the European Commission’s most recent proposal for a EU-wide digital single market strives to achieve.
The Commission’s proposal will be launched in the beginning of 2016 and it is the own-initiative report by German MEP Julia Reda (Green/EFA) that will be voted on during July’s plenary that is giving important insight of what the future of EU copyright might look like.
The forthcoming legislation should aim at three priorities. Firstly, it should strike a balance between the interests of service users, distributors and copyright holders.
Secondly, it should reflect the fact that in 2015 it is the ‘service user’ that plays the key role in shaping the digital single market.
Thirdly, we should not forget that it is through the creation of value that Europe’s cultural landscape continues to develop and diversify, and it is our duty to ensure it has the means and space to remain innovative, and that artists receive due reward and compensation for their work.
The rapid expansion of information technology now allows for easier, more cost-effective purchases of high-quality music as opposed to illegally downloading inferior pirated files. It is important for users to know what they are paying for and who benefits from the charges.
The European Commission should also play a part in the implementation of its ideas. It has devised several plans of action, one of which – ‘Follow the Money’ – employs a number of different strategies to identify and target pirate companies and the advertisers financing them.
Examples of good practice from the UK and France, where the government is working together with various businesses (including content and internet providers), will be taken on board and scaled up to combat the illegal distribution of intellectual property.
It has been established, for instance, that 90% of those looking for illegal downloads such as movies or music, use mainstream search engines. France is therefore working directly with those companies to find ways to limit access to pirated content and prioritise legal ways of acquiring the requested files.
And yet, progress waits for no (wo)man – the same generation that can still remember cassette tapes, CDs and mp3s, is now being courted into moving on to cloud and streaming services. Replacing local storage and, in fact, the very concept of ownership of digital media, with convenient access to data stored online, is growing increasingly popular.
Streaming companies such as Spotify (for music) or Netflix (for movies) are enjoying rapid growth and development thanks to this new environment.
Their increasingly globalised user base, however, now demands to be allowed to enjoy the service they have paid for regardless of their geographical location, especially within Europe. German football fans, for example, want to be able to watch games from the Bundesliga even when lounging by the pool in Bulgaria, and European legislature and companies’ own policies need to reflect that.
My suggestion would be to concentrate on our aims and on the challenges we face in the 21st Century. Europe has the potential to be a leader in the world’s digital makeover – we have some of the most well-educated specialists and relatively high-quality internet access. Disregarding copyright should not be allowed to jeopardise that – instead, intellectual property legislation should serve as a catalyst for innovative ideas.
Last week, we proved that it is possible to have a roaming-free Europe. I am convinced that we can also boost the potential of a digital Europe with a robust and balanced copyright protection.
That way, instead of spending hours rewinding cassette tapes with a pencil, we would soon be driving in automated cars, swaying to our favourite music in expertly-curated mixes.