Estonia has made important advances in developing a variety of digital solutions that aim to improve the quality of life of Estonians. Estonian information society benefits from the active role the public sector plays in commissioning innovative solutions and creating favourable conditions for digital development, as well as from the important initiatives and contributions of private companies and nonprofit organisations. Just to name a few, the best known IT-solutions include electronic identity and ID-card, Mobile-ID, Smart-ID, e-residency program etc. (For more information on the Estonian e-solutions visit e-estonia and the showroom.)
Representatives from all the mentioned sectors aim to continue developing the digital skills of Estonians through their activities and have come together in 2017 to establish the National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition coordinated by the All Digital partner organisation Vaata Maailma foundation. All of the coalition partners have made significant contributions to developing the digital skills in Estonia in the past.
The partners of the coalition have extensive experience in digital skills trainings. The coordinating organisation Vaata Maailma has organised several large scale training project regarding digital skills. In 2002-2004 100 000 people (10% of the Estonian adult population) received basic computer training through the Vaata Maailma training project which was financed fully by private companies: Swedbank, SEB Bank, Elion and EMT (Telia Sonera Group). All of these private companies are included in the national coalition. In 2009-2011 Vaata Maailma training project once again offered basic computer training and training in e-services to 102 697 people (more than 10% of the adult population of Estonia). The project partners included the leading IT training providers in Estonia, IT Koolitus and BCS Koolitus, who are also the members of the coalition. The project was commissioned through a public procurement by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (also a member of the National Coalition).
The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (HTM) are both the founding members of the National Coalition. Both of these public sector organisations have made significant contributions to developing the Estonian digital society through important public procurements that provide funding for digital skills related projects and through developing important national strategies for advancing our digital society. Important strategic documents developed by the The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications include Cyber Security Strategy for 2014–2017 and Digital Agenda 2020. Important strategic documents developed by the Ministry of Education and Research include Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020, Knowledge-based Estonia 2014–2020 both of which include important sections on digital skills. To implement the Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 a program Digital Focus has been initiated. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications has also made important efforts to reduce the bureaucratic burden on businesses by implementing e-services and launching the project Zero-Bureaucracy.
Additionally, several members of the coalition (the Estonian Qualification Authority, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) belong to the board of the OSKA prognosis system which tackles the contradiction between the skills of the labour force and needs of the labour market and provided training opportunities. Since 2015 OSKA analyses the needs for labour and skills necessary for the economic development of Estonia. The system also analyses the question of digital skills in each economic sector they analyse.
Despite the prodigious leaps in the field of digitalisation in Estonia, there remains important work to be done. Even though the average figures that show the digital skills of the population and the tendency to use the Internet (85%) are above the average in the European Union, Estonia is below average in integrating digital technologies to the day to day working life. Estonian companies are on the 23rd place in the European Union in sharing info digitally and using social media. The OECD study PIAAC regarding the skills of adults additionally shows that 8-10% of Estonians (72 000 – 90 000) have low skills in information processing and 42-44% of people cannot cope in a technologically advanced environment. Estonia is a European leader in the field of public services provided on the Internet, and the rate of e-banking deployment is one of the highest in the European Union (90%). However, a part of the population does not use the most accessible security measures (electronic identity issued in Estonia since 2002) for using public e-services. Therefore, the National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition was brought to life. The members of the coalition will continue to carry out activities concentrated on two main target groups: citizens and digital skills and labour force.