September 18, 2021

Digital Skills: A Catalyst for Green Transition

                   Digital Skills: A Catalyst for Green Transition

The European Commission has two major goals for the next five years: (1) the transition to a cleaner environment and a green economy with the help of the objectives set in the European Green Deal, and (2) further progress towards shaping a Europe fit for the digital age. These two ambitions are intertwined and present both challenges and opportunities for business.

Digitalisation comes with the demand for increased digital skills that can ensure a greener economy. We need to equip everyone with the skills needed to ensure that the rollout of digitalisation can occur efficiently. This entails upskilling everyone, in all parts of the economy. This represents a huge challenge. Member states should focus on the development of green-digital skills and jobs, and on defining green jobs and green skills in different ways.

What it is also important for Europe, as a whole, is to design and implement effective policies and initiatives to foster skills and address sustainability-related challenges.

Artificial intelligence is a key enabler of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, as outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as it could potentially contribute to many of the SDG targets. For this reason, AI literacy and the capacity of reading and interpreting data can be considered “green” digital skills.

Other “green” digital skills include:

Strategic and leadership skills that enable policymakers and business executives to set the right incentives and create conditions conducive to goals like cleaner production and cleaner transportation.Adaptability and transferable skills to enable workers to learn and apply the new technologies and processes required to make their jobs greener.Environmental awareness and willingness to learn about sustainable development.Entrepreneurial skills to seize the opportunities of low-carbon technologies.Innovation skills to identify opportunities and create new strategies to respond to green challenges.Marketing skills to promote greener products and services.Consulting skills to advise consumers about green solutions and to spread the use of green technologies.

Industry associations can play a key role in identifying required skills and developing their own training responses. Instead of preparing training programmes themselves, they could also cooperate with education and training systems. Digital literacy would greatly contribute to this end. However, in terms of market needs, it is safe to say that digital skills form the basis to build more advanced skillswhether green or not.

If we have a look at education, for example, access to long-distance learning can be sought through connectivity and through basic digital skills like accessing online classes through any device: a phone, a tablet, a laptop, or a personal computer.  

The opportunities connected with long-distance learning and teleworking should be considered as the main priorities in the context of any discussion on skills. From basic education to university level, bringing students closer to digital technologies will help educate tomorrow’s workers to a more sustainable, accessible way of working.

Europe’s industrial strategy reflects the need for new ways of thinking and working to lead the twofold goal of a green and digital transition.

In its industrial strategy, the Commission has shown readiness to co-design and co-create solutions with industry, social partners, and all other stakeholders. As such, the Commission will create a new forum to work closely with all public decision-makers and private stakeholders and monitor progress on the strategy on a rolling basis – this is something we warmly welcome.

The industry needs to be encouraged to define roadmaps for climate neutrality and digital leadership. This should be supported through cooperation between the public and private sector to help industry develop technologies to meet their goals, as has been successfully done in industrial alliances. Alliances have already proven to be beneficial in the area of batteries, plastics, and microelectronics.

The digital transition will be a decisive success factor for a global green agenda. Both need to work hand in hand as digital improvements will optimise efficiency in the green economy, hence increasing chances to lead a green transition globally.

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