Cyprus: a snapshot of digital skills
Although the Cyprus score on the 2022 edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), improved in recent years, Cyprus is still below the EU average on basic digital skills with one out of two Cypriots lacks basic digital skills.
Cyprus ranks 21st in the EU on Human capital DESI 2022. 50% of individuals between the ages of 16 and 74 in Cyprus have at least basic digital skills, which is below the EU average of 54%. In comparison to the EU averages of 26% and 66%, respectively, 21% of the population has advanced digital skills and 60% has at least fundamental content creation skills. The percentage of ICT specialists in the labour force is below the EU average (3.9% versus 4.5%). 19% of ICT specialists in Cyprus are female, which is the European Union average for female ICT specialists. Compared to the EU average of 3.9%, 2.7% of Cypriot graduates are in the ICT field. The percentage of enterprises in Cyprus that provide ICT training, at 25%, is above the EU average of 20%.
Digital 2023 Cyprus report by We are social and Meltwater shows that there were 1.14 million internet users in Cyprus at the start of 2023, with internet penetration at 90.9% of the total population. Meaning that 114,2 thousand Cypriots lacked internet access at the start of 2023, or 9.1% of the population. In January 2023, there were 1.10 million social media users in Cyprus, representing 87.6 percent of the total population. At that time, there were 1.91 million active cell phone connections in Cyprus, representing 152% of the population.
The Cyprus Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a partnership of organisations from the public and private sectors as well as civil society that aims to promote digital literacy across the entire spectrum of social structure and economic activity in order to bridge the digital divide and establish an open, democratic, and inclusive society. To maximise impact and avoid duplication of effort and initiatives, the Coalition seeks to promote efficient coordination and foster a relationship of trust and constructive cooperation among all stakeholders.
The primary objective of the National Coalition is to promote ICT initiatives, events, and education and training programmes that target not only the broader workforce (and unemployed), but also ICT professionals and the general population, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups and remote areas.
- Improving society's response to the digital challenge and assuring all citizens' active participation in the digital economy and society
Bridging the gap between supply and demand in the labour market, both in terms of future skills and the availability of ICT professionals, in order to meet the growing and more specialised needs of organisations in today's highly competitive environment.
Promoting women's participation in the ICT sector.
Redesigning the education system to advance future skills, utilise new technologies in learning and teaching, and promote STEAM fields as career options.
Raise public consciousness about the significance of digital skills and continuous learning.
The Coalition is part of the National Action Plan for Digital Skills 2021-2025, which has been included in the national Recovery and Resilience Plan, “Cyprus tomorrow”.
Overview of state strategies and national initiatives
The 'Digital Strategy for Cyprus (2020-2025)' intends to: (i) promote e-government by optimizing governance model and by delivering a resilient, robust and secure information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure; (ii) deliver a stronger digital economy and promote the development of competitive and digital industries; (iii) facilitate high-speed network connectivity (iv) promote an accessible and inclusive society that has the skills and motivation to both embrace the national digital transformation and actively participate in digital communities; and (v) ensure security in data and infrastructure and increase the public’s trust in online transactions.
As part of its Recovery and Resilience Plan, in December 2021, Cyprus adopted the ‘Digital Skills - National Action Plan 2021- 2025’ to develop and improve the digital skills of its entire population. This action plan aims to accelerate the digital transition by: (i) delivering an inclusive, open, digital society; (ii) boosting the basic digital and basic software skills of Cypriots; and (iii) creating a critical mass of ICT specialists in the country. The action plan will be implemented by the Cypriot ‘National Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs’.
The Recovery and Resilience plan of Cyprus facilitates the digital transition with investments and reforms promoting connectivity by improving access to communication infrastructure and fostering an inclusive digital transformation. There will be an investment of €133 million for the digitalisation of public services, as the plan includes the construction of a modern, secure, and integrated digital architecture for the transition to digital public services. The plan also promotes digital education and skills, particularly by upgrading digital infrastructure and tools in schools, providing digital training to teachers, and implementing upskilling and reskilling initiatives for various sectors of the Cypriot population. It also facilitates the transition to digital health by modernising the National Health System's IT systems and deploying cross-border e-health services.
Promotion of e-government is financed with €36.4 million from recovery and resilience facility covering among others implementation of new methodologies for the development of selected digital services, definition and implementation of a new cloud computing policy regarding government IT systems and services, digitization of cultural heritage.
Establishment of an Intelligent Transport System using Digital Twin technologies aims to enable better and more efficient monitoring of the infrastructure, to enhance it technologically and to introduce smart features to it.
The Innovative Schools and the eSafe Schools programmes are designed to help individual schools and teachers use digital technologies and integrate them effectively into learning processes. Schools in Cyprus can register to participate voluntarily in both programmes, which are offered at the beginning of each academic year. Participating schools are provided with guidance, support, and a modest quantity of funding to implement specific training actions. In addition, teachers from each institution are designated as "teacher coaches." Their role is to serve as essential backers of the school's initiative to use and integrate digital technology into the learning process. This endeavour also seeks to establish teacher communities that share and disseminate effective practises.
Funding opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to support the digital competences of individuals and organizations are available in form of loans, grants and financial instruments. For the period 2021 – 2026 most of the activities in digital transformation are financed through Recovery and Resilience facility but also as activities in Horizon, Erasmus+, ESIF and EEA grant schemes. You may find more on the page of Cypriots National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and in the article on the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform.