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European Digital Skills Awards 2017: inspiring best practices

11 December 2017

During the “Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition Annual Conference” that took place in Brussels on 7 December, the European Commission awarded five outstanding projects which encourage the development of digital skills in Europe

This was the second edition of the Digital Skills Awards, an initiative meant to showcase initiatives that are original and can be scaled-up or replicated in other countries and sectors. A total of 243 projects applied this year in one of the following categories:


20 finalists, selected by the European Commission and by the Secretariat of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, were invited to exhibit their projects at the conference. An independent jury composed of members of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition Governing Board selected and announced on stage the five winners.


Here are the winning projects:

Digital skills for all: Digitaal.Talent@Gent – Unlocking the Digital Potential of all Citizens

Digitaal.Talent@Gent is the e-inclusion programme of the City of Ghent, the Public Centre for Social Welfare Ghent and Digipolis Ghent, which aims to give all citizens the opportunity to develop digital skills. Digitaal.Talent@Gent reaches over 20,000 citizens a year in actions such as: the Digital lending service, where organisations and schools can borrow free hardware; a coding summer camp for underprivileged children and teens; a programme for people with intellectual disabilities who learn how to work with computers, ICT and deal with social media; an initiative where vulnerable families are introduced to educational games to support the transition of their children to primary school; a public library with digi-cafés for digital starters, digi-tastings where participants gain insight into digital themes such as social media, the cloud and the internet.


Digital Skills for the labour force: Fit4coding - training jobseekers into web developers

Fit4coding is a coding school run by a public-private partnership between NumericALL and the Ministry of Labour and Employment of Luxembourg. The programme aims to improve the digital skills of the country's workforce, while providing opportunities for young adults who have not gone through formal superior education. The duration of the programme is two years and aims to train 90 people by the end of 2017, in six cycles. The result of the first four cycles show that 80% of the students have found a job in development related positions in less than six months after the training.

Digital skills for ICT Professionals: Developer Scholarships Challenge in the EU

The Developer Scholarships Challenge Developer Scholarships Challenge is an initiative by GoogleBertelsmann and Udacity, to help close the ICT specialist skills gap in Europe and offer opportunities to everyone to change career or get access to the skills needed to be part of the new digital economy. During the course, each student is paired with a mentor to guide and support them through the coursework and app challenges. Out of 11,250 students enrolled in the Beginners Course, 6,405 completed it giving a 57% graduation rate. 12% of the Beginners said that they found a job / started app-based business / started freelancing. One of the goals of this scholarship programme is to help promote diversity in the field of technology.

Digital skills in education: Opening Opportunities in Romania

Opening Opportunities is a mentor-lead programme, in which IT professionals mentor teams of high school students who discover computer science, product development and team work in poor regions in Romania. The project includes training for mentors as well as students and showcasing technology in public spaces such as libraries. At the end of the mentoring period, seven teams are selected by a jury and the finalists pitch their computer science projects in Bucharest. The project is run by Asociatia Techsoup with the support of Microsoft YouthSpark and in partnership with Microsoft Romania and the National Association of Librarians and Public Libraries.

Digital skills for women and girls: IT for SHE in Poland     

IT for SHE is a programme which aims to increase the participation of women in the high tech industry, by helping talented female students from IT faculties to enter the labour market. There are three main actions of the programme. The first is the Women in Tech Campwhere the 130 best IT female students in Poland take part in a hackathon, workshops and mentoring. The second action is the Kids in IT, where 50 volunteer female students from IT departments teach  1,000 kids in rural areas basic coding,  how to usie 3D printers, Arduino programming and robot building. The third element is the Mentoring Program for female IT students, which is run by representatives of technology companies in Poland. The selected women get to work with mentors for six months on their professional and personal development.

For more best practices, check out the European Commission's digital skills initiatives repository available at

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