Commission announces pilot project to boost digital skills through internships

he European Commission announced plans for a pilot project to provide working experience in the digital field for 5,000-6,000 graduate students in 2018-2020. The paid 4-5 months internships will be available for students of all disciplines.

Pilot project to boost digital skills through internships

Despite high levels of youth unemployment, there are two million job vacancies in Europe. In many countries there is a mismatch between the skills of the job seeker and the needs of the labour market. Today most jobs need digital skills and more than half of ICT specialists work outside the ICT sector. 40% of enterprises – mostly small and medium businesses – need ICT specialists and find it difficult to recruit them.

Andrus Ansip, European Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market said: “If we are to come to terms with the digital skills gap in Europe, education and training need to become a joint responsibility between employers, employees, educators and policy makers. We need to test ideas, develop projects, work and think together on the best ways to give people the skills they need for new jobs.” Vice-President Ansip’s speech at the Digital Day in Rome.

Today’s pilot project aims to give students of all disciplines experience in fields that are demanded by companies, especially small and medium businesses. Internships could focus on “deep-tech” skills such as cybersecurity, big data, quantum or artificial intelligence, as well as as web design, digital marketing, software development, coding or graphic design.

Companies that are members of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and businesses active in Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, will be at the core of the project, but all companies in the digital field are welcome to offer internships and train students. The first internships could start in the fall of 2018. The interns will receive a stipend of around 500 EUR per month.

Details on how students and companies will be able to join the project will be provided in the coming weeks. If the pilot project is successful, the Commission will develop it further.


Digital technologies, systems and processes are having a massive impact on the labour market and the type of skills needed in the economy and society.

  • Changing the structure of employment, leading to the automation of “routine” tasks and to the creation of new and different types of jobs.
  • Leading to the need for more skilled ICT professionals in all sectors of the economy.
  • Leading to the need for digital skills for nearly all jobs where ICT complements existing tasks. Careers such as engineering, accountancy, nursing, medicine, art, architecture, and many more – require increasing levels of digital skills.
  • Changing the way we learn by fostering online communities, by enabling personalised learning experiences, by supporting the development of soft skills such as problem solving, collaboration and creativity, and by making learning fun.
  • Connecting job seekers and employers in new innovative ways.
  • Causing every citizen to need least basic digital skills in order to live, work, learn and participate in the modern society.

On 10 June 2016 the European Commission published a new Skills Agenda for Europe, working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness. It presents a number of actions and initiatives with the ambition to tackle the digital skills deficit in Europe. The new agenda sets out to improve the quality and relevance of skills formation, to make skills and qualifications more visible and comparable and advancing skills intelligence, documentation and informed career choices. The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a new flagship initiative that was launched in December 2016. It brings together Member States, companies, social partners, non-profit organisations and education providers who take action to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.

More information:

About digital skills and jobs

About the Digital Day in Rome