Given the economic challenges facing Europe, with sky-high energy prices and inflation at levels unseen since the 1970s, boosting economic productivity via digitalisation is more urgent than ever. The opportunities for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) are clear: alongside a need for basic digital skills in areas like IT, UX Design, eCommerce, mobile internet, analytics, and social media marketing emerge requirements for competencies in new technological trends such as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Yet too many SMBs lack the skills to fully benefit from these technological developments; as the OECD put it in a 2021 report on SMB digitalisation, a lack of digital skills is “emerging as a key hurdle to [SMB] digitalisation”. Recruiting, training, and retaining digital talent will be key.
What, then, is the fastest and most efficient way for Europe to gain the right digital skills to boost productivity and meet the challenges of the 21st century? How can governments and private companies work together to ensure the backbone of the economy – small and medium sized businesses – are fully able to harness technology and benefit from increased competitiveness, productivity, and growth?
We put questions and comments sent in from our readers to a panel of policymakers and experts, recorded inside the European Parliament for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic! Joining us were:
- Maria Walsh, Member of the European Parliament, European People’s Party (EPP)
- Tatjana Babrauskienė, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee
- Ana Carrero, Deputy Head of Unit Vocational Education & Training, Directorate-General Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, European Commission
- Inger Paus, Public Affairs Director for Europe, Google
How can governments and businesses support the development of digital skills? How can we ensure that this is done at speed and scale in a fair way that doesn’t leave SMBs behind? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!
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