AstraZeneca and Iberdrola co-led project to address EU digital skills gap


A new initiative has been launched to ensure the European workforce is equipped with digital skills that meet the requirements of emerging and next-generation technologies being deployed and used in various industries. Co-led by bio-technology and energy companies including AstraZeneca and Iberdrola, the Re-skilling 4 Employment (R4E) programme aims to address the employment gap resulting from the accelerated pace of digitalisation and lag in workforce training.

“The digital revolution, automation, and skills obsolescence have led to a skills gap that puts the employment of many people in Europe at risk,” according to a press statement released by utility Iberdrola.

As the transition to digitalisation and green economies accelerates, the majority of existing jobs or positions are likely to disappear or be transformed hence the need for workers to be reskilled to secure their positions or find new opportunities, according to the European Roundtable of Industry (ERT) which will be supporting the R4E programme. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for reskilling citizens a priority with an increase in automation and the use of digital solutions.

R4E will develop training programmes and solutions to reskill 1 million adults of all ages in Europe by 2025 and ensure that 5 million Europeans are equipped with digital skills by 2030 to be able to either get a new job or secure current positions. Of the 5 million, 1 million would be in Spain.

Have you read?
Energy efficiency key to EU’s integrated energy system
AWS, SAP and Capgemini to provide IT solutions for Audi’s digital factory pilot

By addressing the skills gap, the programme will help accelerate the energy transition, digital transformation and recovery from COVID-19, as well as climate and environmental degradation of European economies. This follows a new report, Mapping a New World with the EU Digital Compass, released by ERT in March 2020 finding that Europe is lagging behind its counterparts US and China in terms of digital transformation, hence the need to accelerate investments in human capital and technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and 5G.

Paulo Azevedo, chair of the ERT’s Employment, Skills and Impact Committee said: “We are pleased to announce the R4E initiative with pilot projects in three countries involving several companies led by ERT members, as well as several partner organisations.”

The project launches with a pilot in Portugal, Spain, and Sweden with companies including AstraZeneca, Iberdrola, Nestlé, SAP, Sonae, Telefónica, and Volvo Group, before being deployed to other European member countries.

Other companies that have signed up for the R4E initiative include bp, Capgemini, E.ON, ENGIE, Nokia and Total.

The initiative will offer support through four critical sectors such as:

  1. Technological enablement for retraining, including a common platform and recommendations driven by artificial intelligence;
  2. A network of highly skilled training providers and job-creating companies;
  3. The creation of employment ecosystems in cities to facilitate placement;
  4. Support in the design of funding models in a way that aligns incentives to training providers, companies, and candidates.

Solutions will be developed and deployed according to specific country needs.

For instance, in Spain, the programme will ensure that measures are in line with both the European Recovery Plan and the España Puede Recovery Plan in which Spain will invest €72 billion ($87.2 billion) to transform its economy. As part of the plan, Spain has identified ten reform layers which include the modernisation and digitalisation of the ecosystem and of companies, to ensure a just and inclusive energy transition.

Martin Lundstedt, chair of the ERT Committee on Digital Transformation and President & CEO of AB Volvo, adds: “Digital transformation is key for the transition to a more sustainable society. With the green & digital transitions being driven by the European Union’s Green Deal and Digital Compass, we have the potential to futureproof prosperity in Europe for the next generations. To capture this opportunity, it is vital that Europe´s industrial strategy, competition policy and regulatory environment are aligned so that together we can create a climate where innovation and entrepreneurship thrive.”