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How to develop Digital Skills with lifelong learning

Big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence, social media, the Internet of things and cybersecurity are progressively redefining not only business processes but also work and the economy. To navigate this new world where physical and digital intertwine, new skills and professionalism are needed.

For this reason, the need arises for an increasingly articulated mix of Digital Skills capable of supporting organizations in managing change.

The European Union defines digital skills as "basic skills in information and communication technologies: the use of computers to find, evaluate, store, produce, present and exchange information as well as to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet ". The importance of digital skills affects every sector: the European Commission estimates that, by 2020, 90% of non-ICT professions will require these new skills. However, in Europe there is still a gap between the market for supply and demand for digital talent: only 3.5% of university students attend a degree course in ICT, and 1 in 3 workers does not have basic digital skills. This shortcoming reflects on business performance: 4 out of 10 companies reported a drop in productivity and customer retention due to a lack of digital skills.

The 2018 Excelsior Report of Unioncamere and Anpal highlighted how technological development is also affecting the skills required of workers: «In the future, more than 9 out of 10 profiles will be required digital skills. Added to this is the growing search for qualified profiles" said Unioncamere President Carlo Sangalli.

In this regard, a noteworthy example is one that comes from Microsoft. With the 'Ambition Italy' project, Microsoft aims to involve more than 2 million young people, students, NEETs (not engaged in education, employment or training) and professionals across Italy by 2020, training over 500,000 people and certifying 50,000 professionals. "It is therefore essential to invest in advanced training and help our young people to acquire those skills that will be needed for the jobs of the future" says Silvia Candiani, CEO of Microsoft Italy.

In addition to the challenge of investing in specialist skills, those of adapting training courses and supporting the digital updating of millions of workers through continuous training are added. These are the conclusions of the fourth edition of the Observatory of digital skills - conducted by the main ICT associations in Italy Aica, Anitec-Assinform, Assintel and Assinter Italia with the support of Cfmt, Confcommercio, Confindustria and in collaboration with Miur and AGID.

All the evidence of the study leads to see digital as an indispensable and increasingly important component in all trades, new and always. It is therefore important that everyone can adapt and enrich the portfolio of knowledge and skills, just as it is also important that companies can find increasingly updated profiles in a digital key.

In this regard, the Observatory has identified at least four areas on which to set up new initiatives and strengthen existing ones: renew digital training courses at all levels: from secondary school to university, from professional retraining to management training;
reduce the heterogeneity in the demand for digital skills in the professions, at sectoral, functional or territorial level;
support the full exploitation of job opportunities linked to non-specialist digital skills, also in non-technological sectors;
to push e-Leadership and change management skills in management roles and in all companies, because it is management that must stimulate innovation.

It is estimated that by the end of 2020 around 135,000 new ICT positions will require digital skills. It is therefore essential to invest in advanced training and help young people acquire those skills that will be needed for the jobs of the future.

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