Austria - National Coalition (Allianz für Digitale Skills und Berufe)
Austria’s National Coalition (“Allianz für digitale Skills und Berufe“in German) was launched in October 2020 in midst of the COVID 19 crisis.
Led jointly by the Austrian Ministries for Digital and Economic Affairs, Labour, and Education, Science and Research, the coalition aims at addressing important fields of action for digital qualification to increase the digital resilience of society, companies and public administration.
Therefore, building basic digital skills for all job profiles is highly ranked on the agenda. Further focus areas are improving advanced skills in data science, cyber security and e-commerce. The main responsible Federal Ministers, Margarete Schramböck, Martin Kocher and Heinz Faßmann, explicitly see the Coalition as an actor to help re-qualify workforce who lost their job during the pandemic towards an ICT career and build on broad cross-ministries-collaboration. Another expectation from the coalition’s work is to facilitate exchange within Austria’s regions, as well as with other National Coalitions, on the topic of digital skills and jobs.
The Austrian National Coalition is currently led by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs and supported by fit4internet, a non-partisan and independent association with government support who is also a member of the European Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition. Their objective is to enable the competent use of digital technologies and ensuring broad participation of the entire society in digitalisation. fit4internet works in close cooperation with companies, institutions and organisations and functions as a platform that has committed itself to improving digital competences in Austria.
Community-led event - Outcome paper
The outcome paper from the Community-led event of the Austrian National Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs was published towards the end of September 2021. During the event, stakeholders and partners led by the Austrian Coalition discussed a range of key topics, including: the importance of digital skills certification, the implementation of the national 'New Digital Skills' initiative (running since 2019), measures to support the digitalisation and digital skills in SMEs and businesses, as well as good practices and successful approaches in digital up- and re-skilling.
The event began by highlighting the key lessons learned so far in the process of building a national community around digital skills, such as the need for stakeholders to be engaged in co-design of relevant up- and re-skilling initiatives, or the importance of not re-inventing the wheel when it comes to implementing a nation-wide digital skills certification framework. In addition, findings presented at the event noted that:
- The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the demand for digital skills certification for citizens, as well as the need for it.
- The Digital Competence Framework is already providing a good foundation for educators, teachers and policymakers, who want to ensure that the education system is digital and fit for the future;
- While a higher percentage of the younger population has digital skills, the focus in the coming years will fall on adult education and the need for older people to develop digital skills competences; and for people in general to upskill with advanced and ICT skills.
Examples of good practices, presented during the event
Participants at the event had a chance to discuss past, current and planned national and EU-funded initiatives on digital skills, such as:
- The Digital Pioneers Programme: the 1-year training programme by the Austrian government, which aims to reduce the gender gap in within the ICT sector and encourage more women to embark on digital careers, completed its first phase, which focused on people with little digital knowledge.
- Digital Opportunity Traineeships (DOTs) was successful also on national level and will be continued under the Erasmus+ funding programme.
- EIT Digital Hubs and Ikanos: initiatives dedicated to training of the labour force and digital experts.
During the event, stakeholders looked at the role of the Austrian Coalition in supporting Austrian economy and society post COVID-19. Participants highlighted the need for including unemployed and lower-skilled professionals, raising awareness on available options for self-assessment, and promote the role of digital education, both for teachers and students. Taking into account feedback gathered over the course of the event, activities by the Austrian National Coalition will continue to:
- Boost partnerships between public institutions and private organisations to enhance digital skills and align qualifications for citizens in Austria.
- Provide a variety of digital tools for education and make them available and accessible free of charge;
- Continue offering digital skills certifications (the programme kicked off in 2021);
- Supporting the transformation of job roles by reskilling actions.
National coalition details
The association fit4internet, member of the EU Digital Skills and Jobs coalition, was a founding member of of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition in Austria and currently acts as a main partner in building the National Coalition’s structure.
Regarding digital skills qualification, the initiative mainly targets youth, workforce and job seekers, as well as Gen 60+ in order to minimize the digital gap.
Based on a holistic perspective on implementing the DigComp-framework and the expertise and learnings from a cooperative work during the last three years, the NC coordinators together with fit4internet and numerous other stakeholders. The Austrian National coalition's focus is to increase basic mobile internet use skills of all citizens. Therefore, online self-assessment tools and a repository with (online) training offerings based on the Austrian Digital Competence Framework are available on its platform, both free and paid.
The partners of the Austrian National Coalition include both bodies of the public and the private sector such as governmental agencies and companies with a strong focus on digital re- and upskilling. The association fit4internet is a founding member of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition in Austria.