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Digital Skills in Vocational Education and Training

Annex paper 2 to the Declaration of the Ministers responsible for the Digital Economy
April 7, 2017, Düsseldorf

Digital skills and competencies are driving forces of innovation and competitiveness of G20 economies and partner countries. Digitalisation is changing some occupational fields and professions as requirements to employees' qualifications evolve. Thus, digital literacy and digital skills should be elements of all forms of education and professional training over the life cycle. Starting from early education to vocational and university education to life-long learning – the acquisition of digital skills is essential in all these periods, especially in the transition from job to job. In particular, learning digital skills in vocational education and on-the-job training potentially increases employability and reduces the vulnerability to job loss due to changing task requirements. G20 recall the Digital Economy Development and Cooperation Initiative concluded in Hangzhou, China. In this regard, digital inclusion and the use of digital technology to enhance inclusion should remain key elements of promoting the digital economy in which no one is left behind.

As stated in the G20 Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeship, vocational education and training are important as they enhance the skills of the workforce. The close link between theory and practice in apprenticeship programs as well as during on-the-job-training can help to promote digitalisation in G20 economies and partner economies. Teaching apprentices digital skills and the use of digital media promotes the dissemination of up-to date knowledge on digitalisation in an enterprise. Apprentices can immediately apply their knowledge and induce spill-over effects to other employees. Vice versa, a skilled worker who is committed to digital on-the-job-training can help apprentices and other staff in their company to adjust to digitalisation. To address the lack of digitally skilled labour on a global level, there is an increasing need to support developing and emerging economies to design quality labour-market oriented vocational education and training.

Promotion of digital literacy, high quality education and acquisition of digital skills will help diminish digital divides between and within countries. Also, it will foster occupational and social participation in an increasingly digitised world and promote inclusive growth. In addition, it can contribute to digital capacity building within governments, as an efficient government needs a capable workforce. Science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM)-skills are critical enablers of active participation in the digital economy, especially for women whose participation and graduation rates in those fields are below those of men in many countries. Lawful access to and effective use of digital technologies has the potential to benefit disadvantaged or underrepresented groups[1] as well as foster their social and economic empowerment. Improving their digital skills will help increase their employment prospects and their participation as users, employees, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders of the global digital economy. In addition, digital technologies offer advantages to teach and develop skills among communities that are displaced by natural and/or human driven disasters. Further, participation in work by persons with disabilities could be facilitated by accessible digital technologies and training.

Building on the G20 Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeship, we intend to undertake the following actions, especially targeting disadvantaged or underrepresented groups, and as appropriate to national circumstances by:

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[1] These groups may include for example: poorest citizens, citizens from low-density and remote areas, seniors women and girls, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups.

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Source: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie