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On 7 September, the European Commission published a Communication urging action to enhance digital competences in Europe. The document, entitled E-skills for the 21st century: Fostering competitiveness, growth and jobs, warns that Europe will encounter important shortages in ICT-related skills, due to both the lack of ICT specialists and inadequate user skills. It identifies a dangerous ‘ICT fatigue’, which resulted from the bursting of the dot.com bubble in 2001. The European Commission regards this as a serious threat to the success of the Lisbon Strategy, and its aim to sustain competitiveness, growth and jobs in Europe.
The Communication follows on earlier policy work by various Commission departments in the field of e-competences, such as the report E-skills for Europe: towards 2010 and beyond (2004), the creation of an “ICT task force” (2006), and the “Thessaloniki Declaration” of October 2006. It is seen as a step on the way to a European “e-skills agenda”. Since E-skills fall into a policy area where most competences remain with member states, the Communication can simply recommend that European countries and industry go beyond ad-hoc measures and develop long-term agendas. As for the Commission’s role, the Communication sees it fostering added value to the E-skills agenda, which it will implement largely through existing instruments (LLL Programme, FP 7, structural funds) and five action lines.