This summer, the European Commission released its long-awaited Communication on Artificial Intelligence for Europe. This included recommendations on how to deal with the socio-economic changes likely to result from the impact of AI on Europe’s labor markets.
Through the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Commission is encouraging EU Member States to modernize their education and training systems so that every European is equipped to benefit from technological change. The Commission has also promised that its next multiannual budget spanning 2021 to 2027 will include more support for advanced digital skills training, while the new Digital Opportunity Traineeship will provide up to 6,000 students and recent graduates with hands-on digital experience. This is badly needed: over 40% of European businesses struggle to recruit ICT specialists, yet the same percentage of Europeans do not have even basic digital skills.
Efforts to increase the diffusion of digital skills across education systems, businesses and economies are important and welcome. But, as new research conducted by Microsoft and McKinsey has revealed, they are not the only skills which Europe’s future workforces will need. Uniquely human qualities such as creativity, empathy and problem solving will take on a new level of relevance in an AI-driven world. In fact, the Class of 2030 research has revealed that, within twelve years, up to forty percent of jobs will require a mix of digital and socio-emotional skills, such as effective collaboration and ethical decision-making. Yet currently, school curricula do not necessarily reflect these needs. You can learn more about the research and its implications here.
Microsoft is a long-standing supporter of the EU’s work to foster digital skills. As a member of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, we committed in 2016 to providing 5 million young Europeans with access to computer science education and digital skills training – and in a year and a half, we’ve reached almost 4 million. Our #MakeWhatsNext initiative aims to encourage more women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In addition, our involvement with EU Code Week over the past four years has engaged over 17,000 young people across Europe.
As another edition of EU Code Week gets underway, we are proud to play a continuing role in helping every young European gain a broad range of skills. We encourage Europe’s policymakers and educators to continue focusing on computer science skills, but also to look beyond, by ensuring that we are nurturing versatile, multifaceted students. If successfully supported, such students will go on to be the well-skilled and emotionally intelligent leaders of the data-driven economy.