• Innovation

    lego

    Why digital skills are the currency of future societies

    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 so [read more]
    byEva Paunova | 10/Jan/20173 min read
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    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

     

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  • Innovation

    thyssen

    Unleashing digital skills in the 4th industrial revolution

    Making sure that labour markets are fair and function properly today and tomorrow is at the heart of the debate that is taking place across Europe. To succeed in the transition towards a digitalised economy, we need to improve our skills systems. The wor [read more]
    byMarianne Thyssen | 08/Dec/20163 min read
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    Making sure that labour markets are fair and function properly today and tomorrow is at the heart of the debate that is taking place across Europe. To succeed in the transition towards a digitalised economy, we need to improve our skills systems.

    The world of work is transforming. Across Europe, many fear that increasing automation and digitally-powered business models will destroy jobs and put workers in a race against machines.

    mt

    I believe however that digitalisation, if steered correctly towards our principle of social fairness, can be a force for better quality work, unleashing higher productivity and helping to finance more and better social security. Data shows that most of our workplaces have improved.

    Many jobs have become more interesting and engaging. And, the share of workers receiving paid training grew from 26% to 38% in 10 years. Of course, this is essential because during the same period, the share of workers who declare that they face complex tasks at work increased by a corresponding 50%.

    These additional opportunities are real – however, new forms of work can also be linked to lower and less predictable incomes. And while young people may be quick to embrace new flexible forms, they too – like the generations that came before – share the aspiration to progress towards stable careers and incomes that enable them to lead independent lives. We need to be alert to the risk of fragmented and unfair practices.

    An immediate risk is the gap between ‘great jobs’ and ‘lousy jobs’.  Automation and digitisation are likely to accelerate such polarisation.

    To address these divides, we need to make our labour markets places where workers and employers feel safe to take risks. We need to support smooth transitions on the labour market, whether from job to job, to self-employment or to further training.

    To succeed in transitions, we need to improve our skills systems. The Commission has put forward in the New Skills Agenda a proposal for better skills intelligence – understanding skills bottlenecks and anticipating needs, including through stronger business-education partnerships. Education needs to be more responsive to labour market needs.

    Moreover, the European Commission’s work on a “European Pillar of Social Rights” is an important contribution to addressing challenges of the digital economy by trying to anticipate and influence new trends.

    Is the European social model fit for purpose for the 21st century? And how can we make the European social model future-proof? Making sure that labour markets are fair and function properly today and tomorrow is at the heart of this debate that is taking place across Europe until the end of the year and I look forward to the European Young Innovators Forum’s contributions before I launch proposals next year!

    The article was initially published on www.unconvention.eu.

    Picture credits: Jan
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  • Digital Single Market

    Mastercard

    Ann Cairns: How we are leveraging digital technology for financial inclusion

    On the sidelines of the European Business Summit The Digital Post met Ann Cairns, MasterCard's President of International Markets, to discuss how digital technologies are making a difference in fighting the exclusion from financial services.   Th [read more]
    byThe Digital Post | 13/Jun/20168 min read
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    On the sidelines of the European Business Summit The Digital Post met Ann Cairns, MasterCard’s President of International Markets, to discuss how digital technologies are making a difference in fighting the exclusion from financial services.

     

    The Digital Post: What are the main activities or initiatives on financial inclusion which MasterCard has launched?

    Ann-Cairns-200x200

    Ann Cairns: At MasterCard, we are committed to reaching people previously excluded from financial services and as part of this we have pledged to reach 500 million new consumers worldwide by 2020.

    This means providing solutions that allow them to participate in the formal financial system. We have made good progress. And we fundamentally believe that technology, fintech and electronic payments are powerful tools to ensure we achieve that goal.

    We have many initiatives worldwide, including several in emerging economies.  For example, we have a partnership with the Social Security Agency in South Africa to issue 10 million biometric enabled social security Debit MasterCard cards.

    The key feature of these cards is that the biometric functionality enables the Social Security Agency to ensure only qualifying grant recipients collect the grants.

    A landmark public-private collaboration with the Egyptian government we announced last year aims at financially including 54 million citizens.

    We worked with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Finance and the Egyptian Banking Corporation to roll out a digital ID programme that link citizens’ national ID to the existing national mobile money platform.

    Financial exclusion is not just an issue in countries with emerging economies, it is a big challenge for many Europeans as well. There are many parts in Europe where vast parts of the population simply have no access or do not use formal financial services.

    MasterCard commissioned a 10 -market online survey to understand European consumers’ perceptions of financial and digital inclusion, through the lens of gender inclusion.

    The results of the survey showed that while almost half of consumers in Europe feel that there is a somewhat high or high level of financial inclusion in their country, less than one in four (22%) agree that Europe is the most financially and digitally (24%) inclusive region in the world.

    MasterCard has partnered with many public authorities to launch systems to encourage financial inclusion. For example, we helped the London Borough of Brent to develop a new prepaid card programme for social benefits. The scheme ensures the money is being used by the right people and provides cost savings to the Council and consumers.

     

    TDP: How can we leverage digital technology for financial inclusion?

    AC: We see the future moving in the direction of the Internet of Things.  As we made progress with financial inclusion we started to see that digital identity was actually something that was being used by governments around the world to roll out and register people, and also to include them in society. This is how we started to see inclusion as much broader than just financial inclusion and how it encompasses digital and gender.

    Innovation is a key element for moving to a digitally inclusive society: MasterCard fully supports innovation and entering of new payment methods. The key to achieving inclusion lies in digital payment programmes. In order to deliver on consumers’ and merchants’ expectations for ever better ways of connecting the two MasterCard is continuously looking into new technologies and opportunities that can make that happen.

    Public authorities also have a huge role to play. By switching their payments, be it social disbursements, salary payments or any other kind of payments onto electronic platforms, they can not only gain efficiencies for themselves but also make a significant contribution to bringing people into the financial mainstream.

    Mobile payment platforms have also served as an opportunity to incorporate more individuals into the formal, existing financial system. While many people still do not have access to a bank account, more than 1 in 3 people in the world (2.6 billion) will be using smartphones within the next two years. And mobile phone and tablet users will be making almost 200 billion transactions annually by 2019[1].

    For example, earlier this year MasterCard ‘s HomeSend venture expanded its agreement with the Vodafone Group for M-Pesa – the mobile phone service which allows people with no bank account to send and receive money, top up their phone and enjoy other services all through their mobile phones. Globally, M-Pesa now reaches 25.3 million users (including users in Europe, for example in Romania and Albania).

     

    TDP: MasterCard has just published a new study on financial inclusion. What are its main findings?

    AC: MasterCard commissioned a 10 -market online survey to understand European consumers’ perceptions of financial and digital inclusion, through the lens of gender inclusion.

    The results of the survey showed that while almost half of consumers in Europe feel that there is a somewhat high or high level of financial inclusion in their country, less than one in four (22%) agree that Europe is the most financially and digitally (24%) inclusive region in the world.

    Other key findings include:

    –  Fewer than half of Europeans (49%) believe there is a high level of financial inclusion in their country.

    –  The vast majority of Europeans (79%) believe men have a higher degree of financial and digital inclusion than women.

    –  88% of respondents stated equal opportunities for Europeans in terms of access to financial and digital products, irrespective of gender, are vital for an open and inclusive society, but only 66% agree they have equal access themselves.

    The results demonstrated that, in general, digital and financial inclusion were experiencing a very similar perception issue. So as the EU looks to build a true digital single market in Europe in which people can interact and transact cross-border as seamlessly as in their own country, we need to focus on tearing down the real barriers and ensure that everyone can reap the benefits of a more inclusive world. The Digital Single Market needs to be built with the consumer or end-user in mind.

     

    TDP: Digital inclusion is still an issue also in several EU countries. Do you see governments committing enough to fixing the problem?

    AC: What we see is that the perception of digital inclusion is comparable to inclusive growth. We believe that digital exclusion usually triggers or is triggered by other kinds of exclusion, such as financial or gender exclusion. The assumption that financial exclusion and in turn digital exclusion is a problem solely in developing economies alone could not be further from the truth. We found that roughly 90 million people in Western Europe are still underserved.[2]

    If we look at Europe – the European Commission has done some great work on financial inclusion in recent years. The EU Payments Account Directive was adopted in 2014 and provides for the right for all EU citizens to open a payment account that allows them to perform essential operations, such as receiving their salary, pensions and allowances or payment of utility bills etc.

    With the Digital Single Market Strategy, the Commission is promoting technology and digital throughout the EU. As I referred to when speaking at the European Business Summit earlier this month, what is important is that inclusiveness is embedded into all digital policy initiatives. We need to ensure that the Digital Single Market is built with the citizen’s needs in mind so that it adds value to him or her.

    From MasterCard’s experience, the increased engagement of government helps drive greater expansion of financial inclusion. For example, in the UK, we are working with many local authorities who are now issuing welfare payments through pre-paid cards.

    Some of them have gone entirely cashless and processing all disbursements (e.g. welfare payments, child benefit, asylum seekers, etc.) electronically. Through these initiatives, citizens now have quicker and more secure access to their benefits. Meanwhile, we are seeing how the authorities themselves are enjoying significant savings thanks to increased efficiencies.

     

    TDP: How can the private sector help public institutions or cooperate with them on expanding digital literacy as well as digital skills?

    AC: The private sector is at the forefront of driving financial inclusion. But obviously we cannot do this alone: Public authorities have a crucial role to play. The Commission has recently consulted on various initiatives and published some very interesting proposals in areas such as e-government for example.

    We welcome the Commission’s emphasis on public private cooperation as this is an area where MasterCard is very active and where we partner frequently with public institutions.[3] The best example is the work around social disbursements onto prepaid cards.

    Although the UK is one of the more advanced markets when it comes to promoting electronic payments for government expenditure, other countries are also making good progress.

    In Italy, for example, we work with the national postal service to provide a simpler and more transparent tax collection system. We rolled-out new electronic payment terminals to help millions of Italians pay their taxes in the post office in a fast and safe way. In general, the benefits of going more digital are obvious.

     

    ((1] Juniper Research – Mobile commerce transactions to approach 200bn by 2019: http://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/mobile-commerce-transactions-to-approach-200bn-by
    [2] New Financial Inclusion Study Spotlights Europe’s Financially Excluded, Press release available: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/press-releases/new-financial-inclusion-study-spotlights-europes-financially-excluded/
    [3] For more information on our e-government activities: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/eu/photos/mastercard-government-services-and-solutions/

     

     

    Picture Credits: John Ragai
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  • Digital Single Market

    15852209184_7f35b5e285_z

    How public libraries promote digital inclusion

    In its “New Skills Agenda for Europe”, the European Commission outlines the need to spread digital skills and fight digital exclusion and acknowledges the important contribution of public libraries. In one year, 4.6 million Europeans accessed the inte [read more]
    byIlona Kish | 10/Jun/20166 min read
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    In its “New Skills Agenda for Europe”, the European Commission outlines the need to spread digital skills and fight digital exclusion and acknowledges the important contribution of public libraries. In one year, 4.6 million Europeans accessed the internet for the first time at their public library and 2.3 million people attended digital literacy courses in libraries.

    What does it mean to be digitally literate? The European Commission has its indicators: starting from browsing, searching and filtering information, to protecting personal data and coding. From the growing need for digital skills in the workplace, to benefiting from a range of services such as e-government and online banking, a baseline of digital skills is vital to full participation in modern society.

    The danger is that with the digital revolution, we risk leaving many people behind. Nearly half of the EU has insufficient digital skills and nearly one in five people has never used the internet.

    Older people and marginalised groups are especially at risk of digital exclusion. But the issue of digital illiteracy is also systemic in education; only 30% of students in the EU can be considered as digitally competent.

    This is clearly a challenge for formal education systems. To meet this challenge, institutions like public libraries have an important role to play. There are 65,000 public libraries in the EU and 100 million people visit them every year.

    Public libraries are not just a place to read and borrow books; they are a network of open spaces where people supplement their formal education, working on their digital skills and undertaking a huge range of other educational activities.

    The data backs this up. In one year:

    • 4.6 million Europeans accessed the internet for the first time at their public library

    • 250,000 Europeans found a job thanks to internet access at a public library

    • 2.3 million people attended digital literacy courses in libraries

    The European Commission launched yesterday A New Skills Agenda for Europe,  outlining how a boost in skills could help to tackle some of Europe’s greatest social and economic challenges. A “Skills Guarantee” has been announced to help people who are long-term unemployed get back to work, and a “Skills Tool Kit for Third Country Nationals” will be rolled out to help refugees and other migrants integrate into new communities.

    An additional important element of the New Skills Agenda is the “Digital Skills for Europe” initiative, to boost the public’s competencies online and meet the objective of a European Digital Single Market.

    We need to address digital skills in schools. However, in order to reach the widest group of people possible, we must also empower non-formal learning institutions. The vital role of public libraries as free-to-access community hubs comes into particular focus when it comes to the inclusion of hard-to-reach and vulnerable groups in policies to promote education and skills.

    For example, Bozhidar Tchergarov, a blind Master’s student in Bulgaria, used his public library to learn how to use a computer and continues to attend library-run ICT training courses today. Or Filippo Gruni, a digital entrepreneur in Italy who has created a makerspace in his public library to improve the digital skills of his community.

    As acknowledged by the Commission’s proposal to the Council on the Skills Guarantee, strengthening skills in Europe “should be encouraged to involve a broad range of actors, social partners, education and training providers, employers, intermediary and sectorial organisations, local and regional economic actors, employment, social and community services, libraries, civil society organisations.”

    It is great to see the European Commission recognising the fantastic work being done to improve skills at public libraries across Europe. If you are interested in learning more about the role of libraries in digital skills development, visit us during the next EU Code Week (18-20 October) at the European Parliament, where Public Libraries 2020 will host an interactive exhibition on how Europe’s public libraries are meeting the digital age.

     

     

    Picture credits: Eric Drost

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  • Digital Single Market

    cats

    Digital & Entrepreneurial Skills: The Kingmakers of Tomorrow

    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 pri [read more]
    byEva Paunova | 04/Dec/20154 min read
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    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
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  • Startup Economy

    Passy

    How the Internet could fix Europe’s jobs crisis

    Investing in e-skills and promoting digital entrepreneurship may be the salvation of our children from the unemployment shackles. The EU heads of government should wake up from their nap and seize the opportunities provided by the Internet economy. Europ [read more]
    byGergana Passy | 16/Dec/20146 min read
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    Investing in e-skills and promoting digital entrepreneurship may be the salvation of our children from the unemployment shackles. The EU heads of government should wake up from their nap and seize the opportunities provided by the Internet economy.

    Europe doesn’t have time for complacency. Yesterday does not count in the digital world. We need to think about what our future economy will look like, what sort of society we want to live in 5, 10 or 20 years’ time and go out and build it.

    In nearly every part of life, the digital world is part of the solution in this quest – education, health, transport, energy, environment, etc. The way governments decide to implement new technologies will impact the development of entire regions.

    The digital economy is growing seven times faster than the rest of the economy and it connects our friends, and families and colleagues in ever more extraordinary ways.

    This is a revolution we can all be part of, and which must be shaped to be of benefit to us all.

    Like all bureaucracies there is too much risk-avoiding in Brussels, and even more in Sofia and other national capitals. However, civil society, business, Internet communities and digital enthusiasts can bring additional dynamics to the building of the foundations of Europe’s Digital Agenda.

    [Tweet “We have to overcome the stereotype that the Internet kills jobs.”]

    This is a similar dispute to the one led by the coachmen when the automobile taxi was introduced for the first time in the early 20th century. Their arguments, however, could not stop the course of progress.

    It is the same today – the Internet is the most revolutionary means of communication created by man. The full implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe would in fact create four million jobs in Europe. That would make Europe infinitely more competitive.

    Now let’s compare this fact with the reality of shocking youth unemployment in Europe today. Moreover, let’s impose them on the desperate need for more ICT skilled workers.

    The result is a giant social paradox – monumental unemployment, coupled with a vast labour shortage. This means that an entire generation in the world does not live in its time and lead someone else’s life.

    In early 2014 we need actions, not words.

    Internet highways are the 21st century communications. The European Commission has set up a package of measures to ensure that all Europeans have broadband Internet access that is not slower, than in the rest of the world. Countries that act proactively will outrun the others. For example, the initiative of Bulgaria for turning public places into free Wi-Fi zones is also a part of the innovative approach for providing universal access to the Internet for all European citizens.

    We need to rethink Education to build skills for the 21st century: New technologies and digital skills will completely change the education background, and we must be ready to take advantage of this change. English language has become the lingua franca, and if we do not admit it, we doom our children to isolation.

    Last year, the digital sector launched a “Grand Coalition” with the main aim for Europe to take the necessary measures to prepare professionals for ICT sector.

    Thousands jobs require new competences, which could be the salvation of our children from the unemployment shackles.

    To accomplish this, we would need help from the business sector, social partners and educational institutions.

    A shortage of more than twenty thousand software engineers in Bulgaria is expected in 2015. It is impressive what purely Bulgarian software academies like Telerik and others are doing in Bulgaria in order to fill the gap. Such alternative education institutions will have the potential to increase the competitiveness of the country and to position it in the heart of Europe as a hi-tech destination.

    Reforming whole sectors by means of ICT – from health, through e-government and smart solutions in transport and energy.

    Investing in entrepreneurial culture. Europeans should be infected with the entrepreneurial spirit, and every country should create a background and a culture, in which the start of one’s own enterprise to be an exciting experience. Entrepreneurship change lives and communities for better life.

    The young and promising entrepreneurial community in several EU countries encouraged the European Commission in 2013 to bring into play Startup Europe – Central platform to support those who wish to start and develop their businesses in Europe on the basis of the Internet.

    Euro scepticism is the biggest deterrent for Europe! Our continent has a promising future, and the digital world is the basis of that future. It is time to face the truth. Digital industry must take responsibility for its new role as the backbone of the European economy. The heads of government should wake up from their analogue nap and seize the opportunities of the day.

    Today Europe does not have its own innovative company with the scale of Google or Apple, Facebook, Amazon.

    This could change, if Europe becomes fully connected continent by 2020, if we rethink education, if we manage to overcome skills shortages, if we support the creation of 5,000 new companies in the Startup Europe until 2015, if we double the number of web developers. If … The road that would get us there is called education and innovation.

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