Information and Communication Technology affects today every aspect of our relationship with the outside world, from leisure and social interaction to employment and professional requirements. As a consequence, the need for digital skills and proper ICT competences is steadily rising, in line with the most recent technological advancements and their pervasive social diffusion.
Digital shift may often result as groundbreaking in many respects, and that is why it should be timely addressed through solid education and training schemes. The EU has set amongst its highest priorities the development of a comprehensive digital strategy as a tool for tackling the current ICT skills shortage and seize the opportunities offered by future innovations.
From a professional standpoint, statistics show a clear mismatch between the skills of job seekers and the needs of labour market, resulting in 2 million of job vacancies across Europe despite the high rates of youth unemployment. Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, stated the following during his speech at the Digital Day in Rome:
“If we are to come to terms with the digital skills gap in Europe, education and training need to become a joint responsibility between employers, employees, educators and policy makers. We need to test ideas, develop projects, work and think together on the best ways to give people the skills they need for new jobs.”
Widespread digital literacy is an ambitious but necessary goal that has to be reached adopting an holistic and overarching approach, involving all the relevant players in the field of education and providing learners with the right resources and opportunities.
Young learners, in particular, are the recipients of a new pilot project promoted by the DG CONNECT of the European Commission to provide working experience in the digital field for 5.000-6.000 graduate students between 2018 and 2020. Digital apprenticeship will help future interns learn crucial IT skills, testing their knowledge and directly putting into action their newly acquired competences with 4-5 months training periods paid around 500 Euros. The web portal www.erasmusintern.org is going to provide a crucial support to the initiative, offering a place where companies and organisations can publish their internship offers and search for interns, and where students that want to do an internship abroad can have their profiles, search and apply for internships vacancies.
The first internships are set to be started in the fall of 2018, and they will be available for students from all academic backgrounds, offering them hands-on experience on fields like cybersecurity, big data, quantum or artificial intelligence, which are highly demanded from many companies and organisations of all size. This scheme happens to be particularly consistent with the celebrations for the 30-years anniversary of the Erasmus programme, which helps young new citizens to shape a new modern European identity and gives them a key contribution to keep pace with the radical digital transformation of our society and economy.