With the digitalisation of services and products spanning across industry sectors, businesses are increasingly recognising the need to upskill and train employees with more specialised and technical skills to remain competitive on the global market.
At the same time, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) find it harder to compete with larger companies and access the same talent pool of skilled workforce. They are also less likely to upskill their employees and capitalise on the benefits of the digital transformation. More than 90% of European SMEs consider themselves lagging behind when it comes to digital innovation processes.
The Digital Volunteers initiative by the European Commission will connect SMEs and their larger counterparts with the aim of bridging the skills gap and facilitating access to a talent pool of skilled professionals. The initiative’s pilot programme was launched in April 2021 with more than 50 large companies already on board and will be readjusted on the basis of the feedback received.
Digital Volunteers will build a network of European companies, ready to support the digitalisation of SMEs on a pro-bono basis, and through their in-house experts.
Each company, involved in the initiative has committed to:
- Assist an SME in solving digital skills challenges on organisational level and support digital transformation processes on a broader level.
- Participate in a mentoring scheme, enabling the transfer of skills and competences.
- Respect confidentiality and protect commercial data to avoid overlap with their own digital products, services and processes.
The Platform will host a dedicated matchmaking tool between SMEs and Mentors-Volunteers, building sustainable partnerships between SMEs in need of skilled workforce and larger companies with an established knowledge base and proven expertise.