EC President Receives 9 Millionth ECDL Skills Card

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission recently received the 9 millionth ECDL Skills Card at a ceremony highlighting the key role of digital literacy in increasing employability and building a knowledge-based economy in Europe.

Accepting the ECDL Skills Card, President Barroso stressed that digital literacy skills are essential for Europeans and stated that the Commission is proud to have been at the origin of the “great work of the ECDL programme” and its “amazing” progress in reaching 9 million Skills Cards. President Barroso noted that “digital literacy is part of basic competences such as reading and writing” and that "in this difficult economic situation many workers will need retraining in digital competences to will help them find new opportunities for a better life”.

Chair of ECDL Foundation, Jim Friars, noted that ECDL was created by a group of very dedicated IT professionals who came up with the concept of the European Computer Driving through a European Commission-funded research programme 12 years ago.

ECDL Foundation CEO, Damien O’Sullivan stressed that “in the current economic crisis, it is essential for Member States to increase investment in digital literacy training to ensure the competitiveness and sustainability of the European economy in the medium and long-term”.

Recently the European Commission issued the European Economic Recovery plan that points to ‘smart investment’ to yield higher growth and sustainable prosperity in the longer-term and calls on Member States to invest more in education and retraining to protect Europe’s citizens from the worst of the economic crisis. As part of this plan, the Commission has proposed a €1billion investment to bring broadband to rural areas.

However, as Mr. O’Sullivan pointed out “unless this investment is supplemented with IT training, Europe risks an additional widening of the digital divide in areas where digital literacy levels already lag behind the European average”.

With 40% of Europeans still without the basic skills needed to use the Internet, much remains to be done. ECDL Foundation in conjunction with CEPIS calls on governments and policymakers to increase and accelerate investment in training and education to enable Europe to emerge from this economic crisis as a more dynamic and competitive economy.

ECDL Foundation thanks Guilherme Collares Pereira and PROFIN for their assistance in arranging this event.

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