An EU-27 survey of intermediary organizations operating on the education, social and employment sectors and providing IT training has produced a first ever assessment of the e-Inclusion intermediary sector. It accounts for a total of 250,000 organizations, or one e-Inclusion actor per every 2,000 inhabitants. One in two employs 10 staff or less and operates on a budget smaller than €100,000. Half of the e-Inclusion actors go further and offer employment-related training. And for two out of three, local government funding is the main financial resource.
Competence in using a computer and common office software has almost become a necessary skill to access the job market in the 21st century. About 85% of jobs in 2020 will require some sort of ICT skills, according to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP). Moreover, there is an increasing shortage of ICT skilled labor in Europe. Digital literacy and skills hence become a pre-condition for employability.
Based on the evidence of this mapping exercise, 80% of the e-Inclusion organizations provide public access to computers, to Internet and to digital literacy training. Half of the organizations studied offer employment-related training such as online job seeking skills, application, CV development, as well as use of social media and other collaborative software.
Local governments appear to play a very important role as a funding source for e-Inclusion actors since almost 67% of organizations report this source as one of their top three. Local government funding is followed by national government funding (29%), European Union funding (25%), and usage/service fee revenue (22%) as the most important sources of funding
Close to 50% of the organizations have operating budgets of less than €100,000 and a small percentage of the organizations (11%) have budgets above €1 million. Understanding the sector which provides digital training outside formal education can help policymakers to shape guidelines for a more inclusive labor market, one of the main goals of the European Commission's Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.
In March 2013, the European Commission launched a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, an EU wide multi-stakeholder partnership helping to address a shortfall in the number of European citizens with ICT professional skills and to exploit the employment creation potential of ICT. It will be a key European policy challenge to support the innovation processes created and the services provided by e-Inclusion organizations. Creating the conditions for a larger involvement of the private sector and strengthening the role of the e-Inclusion actors may prove essential to address the challenges of digital exclusion, employability and labor shortage of ICT skilled workers.
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