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
The European Commission has taken an important first step in outlining possible elements of an EU action plan on Big Data. It is now essential to get the policy framework right. The faster the better.
A second wave of digital transformation is coming.
The first one revolutionized the way we order information and spans technological advances from the advent of the mainframe computer to the arrival of Internet search.
[Tweet “This second wave will reinvent how we make things and solve problems.”]
Broadly it can be summed up in two words: Big Data. The expression ‘Big Data’ is used to describe the ability to collect very large quantities of data from a growing number of devices connected through the Internet.
Thanks to vast storage capacity and easy access to supercomputing power – both often provided in the cloud – and rapid progress in analytical capabilities, massive datasets can be stored, combined and analysed. In the next five years Big Data will help make breakthroughs in medical research in the fight against terminal illnesses. Per capita energy consumption will decline sharply thanks to smart metering another application of Big Data.
Traffic jams will be rarer, managing extreme weather conditions will become more science, less guesswork. Makers of consumer goods of all kinds will be able to reduce waste by tailoring production to actual demand. This new ‘data economy’ will be fertile ground that will allow many new European SMEs to flourish.
Broad adoption of such Big Data applications can only happen if the data is allowed to flow freely, and if it can be gathered, shared and analysed by trusted sources. Size definitely does matter. The bigger the dataset, the more insights we can glean from it, so it’s important that the data can flow as widely as possible.
[Tweet “Some elements of Big Data might involve personal data.”]
People need to be confident these are protected by laws and agreements (such as safe harbour). All actors in the data economy must work hard to ensure that data is as secure as possible against theft and fraud.
The European Commission has taken an important first step in outlining possible elements of an EU action plan for advancing towards the data-driven economy and addressing Europe’s future societal challenges.
To complement this initiative DIGITALEUROPE has drafted a paper outlining what we see as the policy focus in relation to Big Data.
We have identified eight priorities:
– Adopt a harmonised, risk-based and modern EU framework for personal data protection that creates trust while at the same time enabling societally beneficial innovations in the data economy
– Encourage the protection of Big Data applications from cyber attacks, focusing regulatory efforts on truly critical infrastructures
– Support the development of global, voluntary, market-driven and technology-neutral standards to ensure interoperability of datasets
– Clarify the application of EU copyright rules so to facilitate text and data mining
– Boost the deployment of Open Data by transposing the Public Sector Information Directive into national law by June 2015 at the latest (EU Member States)
– Create trust in cross-border data flows by supporting the implementation of the Trusted Cloud Europe recommendations
– Continue addressing the data skills gap by supporting initiatives like the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs
– Continue encouraging private investment in broadband infrastructure and HPC technologies with public funding DIGITALEUROPE is ready to engage constructively with the European Commission, Parliament and Council to help them formulate a European action plan for the data economy
It is essential to get this policy framework right, but it is also important to move fast. While Europe is preparing the ground for widespread adoption of the new digital age, the rest of the world is not standing still.