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Ireland: publication of the National skills bulletin (2022)

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The National skills bulletin 2022, now in its 18th edition, is produced by the Skills and Labour Market Unit of the Irish Further Education and Training Authority (SOLAS). It aims to assist policy formulation in the areas of employment, education/training, and immigration. It provides a guide to inform and shape policy, especially in terms of the skills – including re-skilling opportunities – that can be delivered through Ireland’s education and training system. It is targeted at career guidance advisors, students and other individuals making career and educational choices.

The National skills bulletin offers a detailed overview of the labour market in 2021, and examines a wide range of occupations, highlighting those that are most demanded by the labour market and identifying challenges occurring.  In 2022, Ireland’s workforce has never been larger, and it continues to grow, with 2.5 million people in employment by the end of last year. 

The growth in employment has not only led to intensification of existing skills shortages, but also the emergence of additional shortages across a range of occupations. The Irish economy needs more ICT professionals and engineers, and there are many vacancies in healthcare, construction, hospitality and transport that need to be filled. While many of these shortages are being experienced globally, it is imperative that the Irish education and training system continue to evolve to meet the needs of the labour market, particularly in relation to the changing skill requirements associated with technological change, and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The tertiary education system is also working to address skills shortages identified, with programmes including Skills to compete, Skills to advance, SkillNet, Springboard, courses in Near zero energy buildings (NZEB) and Centres of Excellence (dealing with retrofit skills, including (NZEB) skills) , eCollege, and an expanding and diversifying array of apprenticeship offerings.

The National Skills Bulletin is comprised of 10 sections:

  1. Macroeconomic;
  2. Labour market overview;
  3. Employment by economic sector;
  4. Employment by broad occupation;
  5. Regional labour market overview;
  6. Unemployment;
  7. Labour market transitions and recent job hires;
  8. Employment permits;
  9. Vacancies;
  10. Occupational employment profiles.

The richness of material in these sections is vital for the Further Education and Training (FET) system, such as FET skills delivery, national initiatives in supporting people towards employment or upskilling across the lifelong learning landscape. The bulletin can be regarded a key enabler for the sector and the overall national Further Education and Training Strategy.

OECD Rights in the Digital Age (2022)

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Digital transformation affects every aspect of people’s lives, individually and collectively and provides many opportunities. However, it can expose people to new risks, such as security threats, privacy breaches, and restrictions on freedom of expression. At the same time, broad and equitable access to the Internet and digital tools is essential for education, work and social engagement.  The study from OECD (December 2022), Rights in the Digital Age / Challenges and ways forward, explores the impact of digital transformation on internationally recognised human rights, legal and constitutional rights, and domestically protected interests. It considers specific case studies, and provides a brief overview of international and domestic initiatives to protect ‘rights in the digital age’.

As online and offline lives intertwine, concerns and policy gaps emerge regarding individuals’ needs and interests in the digital age. These can be framed from the perspective of rights, including:

  • Human rights, defined by their meaning as “universal and inalienable”, that all people have by virtue of existing as human beings
  • Legal/constitutional rights set out in a country’s domestic constitution and/or legal framework
  • Individual interests that are protected in a domestic context but might not be specified as a human or legal/constitutional right

These categories can overlap, such as where an internationally recognised human right is codified in a country’s constitution or legal framework (e.g. protection from discrimination).

The report examines the impact of digital transformation on human rights and is divided into five chapters:

Chapter 1 – Introduction: “Rights” in online and offline contexts. It sheds light on how rights in the digital age are exercised and protected, including how tensions between human rights (and the necessary balancing act of protecting them) can differ between online and offline contexts. Further, it provides examples of laws and policies that encompass this concept.

Observations include:

  • The digital environment poses unique risks and tensions regarding the protection of rights. Technological advances raise questions about privacy and other human rights.
  • Evidence suggests increasing understanding among countries that policymaking for the digital age requires careful examination of the impact of digitalisation on the enjoyment and protection of human rights and individual interests.
  • Many jurisdictions address questions of rights in the digital age through legislative and policy action. However, there are considerable variations among different approaches, with some initiatives reinforcing the principle that the same human rights that apply offline should be protected online; and others defining or elaborating specific domestic or regional guarantees, or specific frameworks, to protect individual interests and human rights in a digital context.

Chapter 2 – Opportunities and challenges for rights in the digital ageIt considers case studies of specific rights and how they manifest in the digital environment. As new technologies often outpace the policies that govern them, regulatory and policy gaps create the potential for these technologies to be used in ways that harm individuals or society as a whole and undermine the enjoyment of rights in the digital age. Three examples illustrate these challenges: a) freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information in the digital age, b) privacy and protection of personal data and c) connectivity and digital divides as an emerging right to access. In this respect the paper examines the emerging trend of considering Internet access as a right, and potential implications. Ιn this context beyond ensuring widespread connectivity and access to the digital environment, meaningful access requires that people have adequate digital literacy and skills to use digital technologies, and that they are empowered to realise its benefits and understand its risks. Addressing digital divides therefore goes beyond Internet connectivity, and improving indicators such as income, employment and education can have a direct impact on gaps in digital access.

Chapter 3 – Protections for rights in the digital age. While some national jurisdictions seek to address rights questions within existing normative frameworks, others consider that this calls for specific laws, policies, strategies, and even new rights designed for individuals’ activities in the digital environment. This paper highlights domestic (national), regional (EU level initiatives), and international initiatives (UN initiatives) and briefly sets out the current state of play regarding legal and policy measures to safeguard rights and address related challenges in the digital age. It also considers the role of business and their responsibility to respect and promote human rights.

Chapter 4 – Conclusion. The paper provides a point of departure for considering rights in the digital age. The rapid digital transformation provides opportunities and risks for the enjoyment of rights in the digital age. The challenge is to find an adequate approach that enables innovation and can ensure it is safe, accountable, human-centred, and rights-oriented. It also presents challenges to the fulfilment of governments’ obligations under binding international human rights frameworks, and in their domestic legal frameworks. The OECD’s report contributes to and facilitates dialogue between countries who share democratic values and are exploring ways to maintain and advance the enjoyment of human rights and individual interests in the digital age. It provides a launching point for dialogue and responds to the need for a further evidence-base.

JMRC Reform Observatory Bulletin: Digital transformation of the Greek economy

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The Reform Observatory of the Centre for Planning and Economic Research (Center for Planning and Economic Research) aims to monitor developments in key areas and pillars of reform policy, as identified on the basis of the country’s reform programmes. As part of its work, the Observatory periodically publishes the Reforms Observatory Bulletin, which aims to inform public opinion on the state of play of key dimensions of the reform project.

The first issue of the KEPE Reform Observatory Bulletin was issued in February 2023 and focuses on the multidimensional reform programme implemented with a view to the digital transformation of the Greek economy.

Initially, the Bulletin recognises the use of digital technologies for the transformation of businesses and services as one of the key policy priorities at European Union level in recent years. In Greece, the necessary reforms to be implemented in order to achieve the digitalisation of the Greek economy are planned in accordance with the Digital Transformation Paper 2020-2025, which is in line with the European policy framework and supported by important financial tools available to the European Union for this purpose. These are essentially four categories of reforms, namely the development of very high capacity digital infrastructure and technologies, the promotion of the digital transformation of businesses, digital skills and the digitalisation of public administration.

Specifically for upgrading the digital skills of the workforce and citizens as a whole, it is identified as one of the main objectives of the digital transition strategy at European level, and a key condition for the efficiency of the reforms and investments implemented in the other areas of digital design. It involves cooperation both at transnational level and between domestic public and private bodies and organisations, educational institutions, social partners in areas such as:

  • upgrading digital education and training programmes;
  • strengthening the National Digital Competence Academy and
  • strengthening the National Alliance for Digital Skills and Jobs by linking the website nationalcoalition.gov.gr to the European Digital Skills Jobs Platform (DSJP), giving users greater opportunities for information.

Finally, he points out that in order to achieve its digital transformation Greece has in its reach a number of valuable strategic texts such as the 2030 Digital Compass and financial tools such as the Connecting Europe Facility, the Technical Support Instrument, the Recovery and Resilience Facility and the Digital Europe Programme.

With regard to the Centre for Planning and Economic Research (KEPE)

It is the largest research institute for economic science in Greece to investigate issues relating to the Greek economy. In addition, as the advisory body of the Minister for Development and Investment, by which it is supervised, the KEPE provides the official State with technical services in economic and social policy matters. The specialisation of the research staff of the KEPE (in the majority of economists, doctoral graduates) in specific fields, as well as the maintenance of the research staff in a common roof, results in the pooling of know-how and the pooling of experience and knowledge in order to carry out complex analyses.

You can read the study at: https://www.kepe.gr/images/dpm/DPM_NO1_2023.pdf