An integrated public policy initiative aimed at enhancing digital competences
We live in a world that increasingly relies on digital technologies and where online electronic devices are the most common form of interaction. The economy, productivity and competitiveness are also increasingly dependent on digital factors, leading to a growing need for digital literacy in almost every profession.
Even though Portugal is not far from the European median in terms of digital skills1 (Figure 1), it needs to reinforce them, especially in terms of qualification to encourage Internet usage. To this end, we need both to qualify the young population and requalify our human resources. Portugal’s training infrastructures and the strong potential of its human resources make this a viable task, albeit one that requires mobilisation and a combination of efforts from different areas of governance and civil society. To this end, in 2017 the Portuguese government established the “National Digital Competences Initiative e.2030, Portugal INCoDe.2030”, an integrated public policy to enhance and foster digital competences.
Digital competences are essential for both exercising full citizenship and to facilitate employability by meeting the needs of an increasing digitisation of the labour market: a more skilled working population gives rise to more new jobs, as well as innovative markets and products, leading to more competitive and robust economic activities. Digital competences are also very important for the development of a critical and multifaceted awareness and to promote social well-being and inclusion.
At the same time, the country itself must be an active agent in the global effort to produce new scientific computing knowledge and develop the capacity to manage and use large amounts of information, to ensure a better position in Europe and the world. We cannot wait to find out what the new technologies will be; we have to be part of their creation.
Therefore, the Portugal INCoDe.2030 initiative has a broad scope in this drive towards digital development, starting with the promotion of digital inclusion and literacy, educating the young generations from an early age, qualifying the active population and specialising its graduates for advanced digital jobs, and to turn the country into a net contributor for the new digital developments.
What are digital competences?
The Portugal INCoDe.2030 initiative addresses the concept of digital competences in a broad manner. It includes the notion of digital literacy (i.e. the ability to access digital media and ICT, to understand and critically assess contents, and to communicate effectively), as well as the production of new knowledge through research.
The concept of digital competences is also linked to the use of digital technologies to design new solutions for different types of problems, the integration of interdisciplinary knowledge and data analysis, the intensive use of artificial intelligence, as well as of advanced instrumentation and communication networks and mobile systems, and the development and programming of cyber-physical systems. This involves hardware and software and extends the concept of ICT to electronics, automation and robotics.
Competences can be developed to different levels of depth and proficiency in each of these areas, depending on the level of qualification and goals set. These different levels are reflected in the type of measures that will be promoted in an inclusive and comprehensive way for the whole of society.