IoT and Digital Skills, Joint webinar by NGIoT and DSJC

NGIoT and The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition (DSJC) joined forces to bring together governments, industry, academia, civil society and educators to address the issue of the lack of digital skills in Europe.

The webinar addressed the barriers related to the lack of skills that hinder the uptake of new technologies, and the realisation of its market potential, as well as the instruments that can be initiated to improve digital skills among companies and citizens in Europe.

Presenters and participants highlighted the challenges and opportunities to meet digital skills requirements for IoT, encompassing Cloud Computing, Edge Computing, AI and 5G, through a series of presentations and discussions. 

Access the recording here or watch it here below.

Tanya Suárez, CEO of BluSpecs and IoT Tribe described how the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance for all organisations to understand how technology works and how this can lead not just to better connectivity for business purposes, but also for the benefit of society After the COVID crisis, the DSJC saw an increase in applications to become a member, showing organisations are becoming pro-active to help drive the digitalisation of society.

Federico Facca, CTO, Head of Martel Lab presented the upcoming NGIoT Research and Innovation Roadmap for IoT. He emphasised that IoT is a technology that interconnects infrastructure with services and its complexity is increased by the large ecosystem of actors around it. There is great potential for IoT to increase the competitiveness of EU companies across sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, automotive and healthcare. Financial instruments to support the advancement of technology similar to those in Horizon 2020 are expected to be a key part of both the new programmes Horizon Europe and Digital Europe. The NGIoT team has carried out analyses focusing on the research priorities and the digital skills that are becoming relevant.

Research challenges in IoT are expected in terms of upgrading the processing architecture to ensure the quality of data, real time support, cybersecurity and privacy. Other challenges include the monetisation and sharing of data, connecting different device layers, as well as making IoT devices more environmentally friendly. It is not only technology skills such as programming machine learning that are needed for the success of IoT; legal, ethical and other human related subjects need to be considered in implementing the next generation IoT.

Christine Simon, of DG CONNECT, European Commission gave an introduction to the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, a community creating a movement to make sure no one is left behind in Europe because of a lack of digital skills. 2019 statistics showed that 42% of Europeans do not even have at least basic digital skills. The DSJC is a platform to exchange initiatives working on a local or regional level through trainings, placements, and awareness-raising to support Europeans’ digital transformation.

DSCJ National Coalitions focus on upskilling and reskilling at a local and national level, which can sometimes be more efficient. Pledges, or direct contributions of training or placement are on display on the Pledge Viewer website. 120 of 513 Coalition members are Pledgers and their activities have already reached 12 million beneficiaries. Initiatives range from large efforts to train up to 3 million people, to focused work by small start-ups; all of these are contributing to training Europeans with the digital skills they need in our society.
Access the Pledge Viewer here:

The Coalition also supports Digital Opportunity Traineeships through the Erasmus Intern platform. Students and recent graduates receive traineeships in digital training, from any academic discipline, covering the need for humanistic studies.

Damien O’Sullivan, CEO of ICDL discussed the development of digital skills training. ICDL started as a small European project 23 years ago and has evolved into a global sustainable operation. It focuses on digital skills, and the needs of technology users rather than creators or maintainers. Three programs are currently offered:

  • Workforce for employees with modules such as PC applications and best practices in cybersecurity and data protection;
  • ICDL professionals, digital skills for occupational professionals including finance, marketing and engineering;
  • ICDL insights, targeting non-IT professionals (mid and high-level managers) to understand how new technology will affect their business.

Key points highlighted included a need to focus on training delivery in addition to development; and to standardise programmes. Certification is important because it ensures quality of learning as well as training and gives recognition. Scalability is important and multiple partners are necessary for delivery. Finally, stimulating demand is also vital given the variety of digital skills programs available.

Parm Raeewal, Chair, Alliance for IoT Innovation (AIOTI) Steering Board, and Public Policy advocate at Vodafone presented IoT skills demand in industry. Studies show that 9/10 future jobs in the EU will need digital skills; only 50% of students are prepared for IoT roles with their current educational training; and 24 million SMEs suffer due to low digitisation and connection; the lack of knowledge and skills is a serious challenge to IoT implementation, and holds back business performance in both tech and non-tech companies. There are also serious discrepancies in digital skills across different countries.

A Vodafone and YouGov study showed 65% of young people do not receive enough career advice, and have therefore launched a ‘What will you be’ tool available in 12 languages, which has so far supported 0.5 million people.
Access the tool here:

Vodafone offers 165,000 opportunities for young people to get digital skills training; with a particular focus on Coding for Girls. Access the initiative here:

Panel discussion

The Panel discussion, composed of Adriënne HeijnenAarhus University; Francesco CapparelliIIP; Damien O’SullivanICDL; and Parm Raeewal, AIOTI/Vodafone focused on public and private sector initiatives to improve digital skills to benefit workers as well as the European economic and social ecosystem.

In the view of the panelists, there are many initiatives directed at elevating the level of digital skills in Europe. The problem does not appear to be a lack of supply of training, but rather a lack of demand and engagement of end-users due to the complexity in identifying the right training for their level of expertise and or specific sector/market and understanding how this training translates into concrete outcomes.

The need to collect expert views and provide insights to the EC was identified, in order to assist the standardisation of programmes at the European level and provide certification and standardisation for digital skills training. The sharing of best practices is vital to ensure access to all, especially small businesses.

Underlying the development of new technologies within the Internet of Things is the need for the assessment of the digital skills requirements it will generate to ensure appropriate adoption. Much focus is placed on the transfer or exploitation of technologies and IP, however, digital skills assessment and industry itself needs to be included earlier on in the process to ensure that the tech reaches a market with the capacity to integrate and implement through the relevant programmes and approaches as mentioned.

Further information

NGIoT is building a roadmap for IoT research, innovation and deployment with recommendations for the European Commission’s coming programmes Horizon Europe and Digital Europe with a budget of €600 million dedicated to advanced digital skills. Download the NGIoT Roadmap

The DSJC Coalition brings together all stakeholders taking action to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.