National eSkills Strategy launched
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National eSkills Strategy launched

Silvio Schembri: ‘Digital and communication technologies have dramatically changed every aspect of life. For our country to thrive we need to furnish tomorrow’s generations with the right skills and training.’

Silvio Schembri: ‘Digital and communication technologies have dramatically changed every aspect of life. For our country to thrive we need to furnish tomorrow’s generations with the right skills and training.’

Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri launched the 2019-21 National eSkills Strategy on March 13, making Malta the first EU member State to have a national strategy for digital skills.

Mr Schembri explained that the strategy seeks to pave the way for the enhancing of the nation’s digital skills and ultimately prepare for the challenges ahead in an ever-evolving digital scenario.

He said: “The past few years have seen the unprecedented rise of digital and communication technologies, which together with the digital economy, have dramatically changed every aspect of life. For our country to thrive we need to furnish tomorrow’s generations with the right skills and training.”

Digital technology is now prevalent across all sectors, and this has created a need for digital skills for most roles and positions of employment. Digital skills are not just relevant for ICT practitioners, but also for the workforce, education providers and society in general.

The national eSkills agenda seeks to develop a larger digital talent pool and to ensure that individuals and the labour force are equipped with adequate digital skills.

The strategy will tackle communication in a digital environment, future technology and growth, IT teaching and guidance, funding sustainable initiatives, support on curriculum design and professional development, upskilling industry, assessing digital competence, participative use of tech by youth, digital divide in society, and importantly, open up to national recognition of the IT profession. Throughout the implementation of the rolling, non-static strategy, the eSkills Foundation will gather feedback from a Strategic Consultative Committee.

EU member States have since 2017 been invited to develop comprehensive national digital skills strategies, and Malta was one of the first few countries to specifically step up to this challenge.

The eSkills Malta Foundation embarked on this project in April 2018, and with PwC’s involvement, managed to engage with the relevant stakeholders through various surveys, workshops and face-to-face meetings.

The project involved a proper study of the current state in digital and ICT skills, upcoming local and international emerging technologies, and upcoming education and training methods. Following this, the project charted the state that Malta should preferably have reached by 2021, and the steps to get there, and come up with important recommendations that could possibly championed by the eSkills Malta Foundation.

The launch event was also addressed by Gerard de Graaf, director for the Digital Single Market in Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content & Technology (DG Connect) at the European Commission, Robert Debono, ICT Director of Study, PwC, Vince Maione, CEO of the National Skills Council at the Education Ministry, and the author.

De Graaf said: “Malta, and in particular the eSkills Malta Foundation, has done excellent work in digital skills policy, training and upskilling your citizens and the labour force. The facts speak for themselves.” He added that “the record in Malta is good, also when we look at the Digital Economy and Society Index, to become a leading digital country in Europe and the world”. These words motivate and encourage us to go further and higher in the realm of digital and ICT skills. As in the past, the eSkills Malta Foundation will continue working incessantly towards its goals and looks forward to collaborate with stakeholders to further achieve our aims.

Carm Cachia is chief administrator of the eSkills Malta Foundation.

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