ŠAVŠ/TAČR Digital Czechia in a Digital Europe


Development of Digital Skills and Addressing the Shortage of ICT Specialists Karel Pavlica The development of digital skills and provision of a sufficient number of ICT professionals are problems faced by all European Union countries. The aim of this study is to identify and characterize successful/promising strategies and procedures in both of these problem areas and to find concepts and recommendations for the Czech Republic appropriate to its situation and economy. Let us first address the issue of developing digital and ICT skills. While the Ministries of Education of various countries of the European Union, including the Czech Republic, systematically implement new technologies and further introduce subjects or fields primarily focused on ICT at primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions, adult education remains somewhat peripheral. Yet, from a practical consideration, it is precisely members of specific groups of adults (people over the age of 50, people on low incomes, existing workers in businesses undergoing and/or preparing for digitalization, people with disabilities, etc.) who are most at risk of digital exclusion. With regard to the necessary development of digital skills in different groups of the adult population, the active use of the existing network of local libraries (or other community centers) is proving successful in several countries (United Kingdom, Ireland, Estonia and the Netherlands). Such places are easily accessible and, provided they are equipped with modern technology, enable the potential training of thousands of citizens free of charge. Two procedures then suggest an answer to the question of how to provide education in digital skills to a large number of adults at a personal level. The first of these are foundations and projects (often supported by the European Social Fund), which train hundreds of volunteer trainers free of charge and/or for a small fee (Digital Championships Network in the United Kingdom) or offer and provide adult training itself for free or at an affordable cost (Estonian Look@World Foundation, Irish Springboard + Initiative). The second, oftenparallel, approach is the government-sponsored involvement of large ICT companies in the development of digital skills. For example, in the United Kingdom, Microsoft has launched a program to train 30,000 “public” trainers with a wide range of digital skills by 2020, and Google offers a free five- hour digital skills course to anyone interested. In the same country, non-ICT

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