Digital literacy skills are just as important as knowing how to read or write

Written by Catherine Stihler on 17 October 2016 in Opinion
Opinion

Coding will soon become essential to finding a job, so it's important to demystify these skills, says Catherine Stihler.

Catherine Stihler | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual


It is predicted that by 2020, 90 per cent of all jobs will require at least basic digital skills, but currently 22 per cent of the European population have no digital skills at all.

I believe the key to Europe's digital skills development is relevant education and training from a young age and throughout adulthood. In fact, I consider having digital literacy skills to be as important as knowing how to read or write. This is why I am proud to be a part of EU Code Week.

European digital economy and society Commissioner Günther Oettinger has said: "We need to speed up the upgrading of digital skills, including coding. If you want to be successful at your job, in your business and in the production sector you need to have a portfolio of digital skills. EU Code Week provides an opportunity to learn a digital skill that is essential on the job market."


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During DG Connect's annual EU Code Week, thousands of coding events with hundreds of thousands of people are held across the EU and even all over the world. This grassroots movement aims to show young, adult or elderly people how to bring ideas to life with code, to demystify these skills and bring motivated people together to learn.

Being able to code will soon become as essential to everyday life at work and at home as understanding how to navigate the internet is today. Coding is the language of the digital world, an important tool for employability, and the vehicle for emerging technologies.

The coding movement, encouraged by EU Code Week, is taking off in schools and universities across the EU, and this is a fantastic sign of progress.

However, non-formal learning institutions like libraries have an equally important role to play in bringing coding and digital making to every community.

Every year, 100 million people in the EU visit one of the 65,000 public libraries in Europe. These libraries are the first port of call for skills development outside of formal education, from today's basic skills to tomorrow's basic skills of coding and robotics.

Every year, 4.6 million Europeans access the internet for the first time at their public library and 2.3 million people attend a digital literacy course. Libraries are not just a place for books. They're a place for people, for learning, for improving and for widening your world.

This is why I am proud to co-host the upcoming exhibition Generation Code: born at the library, along with my colleagues Seán Kelly, Eva Paunova, Michał Boni and Antanas Guoga from the EPP group.

The exhibition will take place from 18-19 October in the European Parliament. Coding and robotics experts from pioneering public libraries across Europe will share their technologies at this interactive exhibition.

Representatives from libraries and library associations from all member states will be ready to talk about challenges and opportunities that libraries face in their country, as well as providing country-specific information on digital skills and non-formal learning.

I'd like to invite everyone to come by and explore the exciting world of coding, robotics, virtual reality and much more with fun activities that simulate the excellent daily work of public libraries in introducing people to new technologies.

 

About the author

Catherine Stihler (S&D, UK) is a Vice-Chair of Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee

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