Digital skills for growth and welfare in Denmark
“What could we get if we invested 4 billion Euros in digital infrastructure and skills instead of building a fixed link across the Femern Belt to Germany?“ Raising aspirations for the digital economy and providing challenging angles of thought leadership, an eSkills manifesto was recently launched during the conference Digital Skills for Growth and Welfare hosted by Microsoft in the Danish Parliament.
eSkills were pinned on the map as a core requirement for realizing digital growth potential in Denmark through a lively debate particularly amongst the Parliamentary IT spokespersons Michael Aastrup, Morter Oestergaard and Yildiz Akdogan. Director of the Ministry of Integration, Claes Nilas and Prorector of the Danish IT University, Jørgen Staunstrup joined Danish GM, Jørgen Bardenfleth to confront the double challenge of global competition and demographic growth by examining how the lack of digital skills in the population is having an impact. The supply of the best international talent equipped with the knowledge and competencies for growth heavy industries does not adequately meet the demand for IT skills in the future labor market. A European study by the international analyst IDC indicates that the need for basic IT skills will grow significantly in coming years. In 2014 90 % of all jobs in Europe require a certain level of skills in IT.
How do we drive the growth and competitive skills that will ensure future prosperity? The eSkills Manifesto was unveiled as a tool for government, industry and academia to collaborate to improve the prevalence of digital skills among Danish citizens. The Manifesto brings to light ten proposals, focusing on areas such as the Danish public school system and the provision of future-ready skills and the learning platforms available to SMEs.
A study from the Danish IT Industry Association (ITB) estimated that at least 20 % of Danes do not have the necessary IT skills to succeed in the job market in a few years. Lack of IT skills also inhibits significantly the ability to be an active citizen. There is therefore need to act - and act now. With this manifesto Microsoft and BRF Kredit are inviting open discussion of how we should respond to these challenges. The goal is to generate the growth needed to make our welfare future proof for the coming generations.
What could we achieve if we invested 4,3 billion Euros in digital infrastructure instead of the fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt?
To improve the path of growth and pave the way for innovation we look at creativity and a willingness to challenge traditional solutions. We believe that a boost in both the digital infrastructure and Danish digital skills are a prerequisite for growth that we cannot afford to miss.
Ten alternative proposals for growth:
That is why here are ten alternative suggestions as to what 4,3 billion Euros could also be invested in:
Digital literacy package for SMEs: Small and medium enterprises may have difficulty finding the necessary resources to exploit opportunities in IT. A digital literacy package for all businesses with up to 10 employees should be offered. Investing: 2,3 billion €
IT training boost for the unemployed: IT skills are now a prerequisite for most jobs. Therefore, the availability of tailored IT training would increase the opportunity of the unemployed to get back to work. Investment: 600 million €
IT training for all teachers: All primary school teachers must receive a basic IT training either as part of their education in college or as an offer of training. Investment: 280 million €
Home computer for teachers: Grants to teachers to buy a home PC, so it becomes a natural part of preparation for teaching. Investment: 21 million €
Improved digitization of education: A further digitization of education from primary school to university will facilitate program administration and accustom Danish citizens to using digital services every day. Investment: 390 million €
Increased quality and accessibility of e-learning programs: A doubling of the Ministry of Education's budget for testing and development (R & D) would increase the quantity and quality of publicly available e-learning programs. Investment: 135 million €
A PC per pupil in all schools: All students in Danish public schools should be equipped with a laptop, so as to ensure integration of ICT in all subjects. Investment: 520 million €
Free IT courses in libraries: The digitization of the Public Citizen - and the resource and service benefits offered by this - can only be realized if citizens have the necessary basic skills. It may include ensured through free IT courses in libraries. Investment: 7,25 millions €
Campaign for IT skills: A nationwide campaign that highlights the importance of IT skills. The goal is generally to get the Danes to improve and further develop their IT skills. Investment: 6,7 millions €
Initiatives to improve the IT sector's image: Denmark requires that even more students are educated in IT. Investment: 6,7 million €
Total investment: 4,5 billion Euros
The Technological Institute estimated in 2006 that it would cost 5 billion € but the investment would give the yield of 7,9 billion € over five years. The above proposal is our version of investments which can lead us on track to reap the benefits of investment in Danish IT Competences. We hope others will also offer suggestions and ideas, so the debate can continue….