Digitalisation, Al and Equity - How to strenghten the EU in the global race of future skills and education, while ensuring social inclusion (Exploratory opinion at the request of the Finnish Presidency) - Related Opinions
The proposals discussed in this opinion form the second package of proposals launched for the development of a European Education Area – the proposal on the automatic mutual recognition of diplomas, on early childhood education and care and on the teaching and learning of languages. The EESC welcomes the setting up of a European Education Area, given its contribution towards the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and in promoting amongst others Europe's social, economic and demographic development. It encourages however to incorporate this initiative within a long-term vision for education, training and lifelong learning, based on effective social dialogue.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) welcomes the fact that the European Commission has established a Digital Europe programme, which underscores the intention to make Europe a leading player in digitalisation and to increase its economic strength and competitiveness on the world stage. The aim of the Digital Europe programme is to enable a digital single market and to shape the digital transformation in a positive way for all citizens of Europe.
The EESC agrees with the vision outlined in the communication. It believes that in the course of the changes generated by digital transformation, people must be at the center of care. The digitalisation processes must help healthcare professionals to spend more time with patients. It must be ensured that healthcare professions are appropriately staffed with qualified personnel and equipped with appropriate digital skills. Digital tools must be a lever to develop new forms of organisation in health and care systems.
The EESC flags up the potential of AI and would like to give its input to efforts to lay the groundwork for the social transformations which will go hand in hand with the rise of AI and robotics.
The EESC supports the proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. A proper coverage of workers in non-standard forms of work and the self-employed would be in line with the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights. Access to social protection systems is key for fairer societies. The main outcomes would be: increasing the mutualisation of risk, income security, labour market dynamism, higher productivity, better allocation of resources, and reducing insecurity and poverty for individuals.
This exploratory opinion was requested by the European Parliament to feed into a mission to Tallinn, Estonia, on "Digitalisation and the women's role", organised by the EP's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) on 19-21 September 2018. The opinion looks into the digital gender gap in education system and the labour market. It analyses the reasons behind this phenomenon it and makes proposals on how to increase the participation of girls in STEM and ICT studies and boost the presence of women in the digital sector. It also looks into the pros and cons of digitalisation and its impact on women's life-work balance.
The EESC welcomes the efforts made by the EC to address the persistent pay gap between men and women by proposing an Action Plan with eight areas for action, but finds that each area should be further developed. It is important to look at the stereotypes that affect career choices, as well as to the underlying causes of labour market segregation, in order to counter them. It agrees with the EC proposal for pay transparency and pay audits to be introduced in order to facilitate the collection of individualised data and develop appropriate action plans at sector and business level. Moreover, it welcomes the EC recognition of the crucial role social partners play in this, while also highlighting the contribution of civil society organisations. Finally, it insists on the need to obtain additional resources, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework, to implement the Action Plan, including the financing of childcare facilities and long-term care services.