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Call: Preparatory actions for the data space for skills

Programme
Acronym DIGITAL
Type of Fund Direct Management
Description of programme
"Digital Europe"

The general objectives of the Digital Europe Programme shall be to support and accelerate the digital transformation of the European economy, industry and society, to bring its benefits to citizens, public administrations and businesses across the Union, and to improve the competitiveness of Europe in the global digital economy while contributing to bridging the digital divide across the Union and reinforcing the Union’s strategic autonomy, through holistic, cross-sectoral and cross-border support and a stronger Union contribution.

The Programme shall be implemented in close coordination with other Union programmes as applicable, and shall aim:

  1. to strengthen and promote Europe’s capacities in key digital technology areas through large-scale deployment;
  2. in the private sector and in areas of public interest, to widen the diffusion and uptake of Europe’s key digital technologies, promoting the digital transformation and access to digital technologies.

It will reinforce EU critical digital capacities by focusing on the key areas of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, advanced computing, data infrastructure, governance and processing, the deployment of these technologies and their best use for critical sectors like energy, climate change and environment, manufacturing, agriculture and health. Thus, the Programme shall have five interrelated specific objectives:

  1. Specific Objective 1 – High Performance Computing
  2. Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence
  3. Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust
  4. Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills
  5. Specific Objective 5 Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacity and Interoperability.

The Digital Europe Programme is strategic in supporting the digital transformation of the EU industrial ecosystems targeting upskilling to provide a workforce for these advanced digital technologies. It supports industry, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and public administration in their digital transformation with a reinforced network of European Digital Innovation Hubs (EDIH). The Programme will accelerate the economic recovery and drive the digital transformation of Europe.

Specific Objective 1- High Performance Computing

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 1 – High Performance Computing shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. deploy, coordinate at Union level and operate an integrated demand-oriented and application-driven world-class exascale supercomputing and data infrastructure that shall be easily accessible to public and private users, in particular SMEs, irrespective of the Member State in which they are located, and easily accessible for research purposes, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2018/1488;
  2. deploy ready to use operational technology resulting from research and innovation in order to build an integrated Union HPC ecosystem, covering various aspects in the scientific and industrial value chain segments, including hardware, software, applications, services, interconnections and digital skills, with a high level of security and data protection;
  3. deploy and operate post-exascale infrastructure, including integration with quantum computing technologies and research infrastructures for computing science and encourage the development within the Union of the hardware and software necessary for such deployment.

Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 2 – Artificial Intelligence shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. build up and strengthen core AI capacities and knowledge in the Union, including building up and strengthening quality data resources and corresponding exchange mechanisms, and libraries of algorithms, while guaranteeing a human-centric and inclusive approach that respects Union values;
  2. make the capacities referred to in point (a) accessible to businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups, as well as civil society, not-for-profit organisations, research institutions, universities and public administrations, in order to maximise their benefit to the European society and economy;
  3. reinforce and network AI testing and experimentation facilities in Member States;
  4. develop and reinforce commercial application and production systems in order to facilitate the integration of technologies in value chains and the development of innovative business models and to shorten the time required to pass from innovation to commercial exploitation and foster the uptake of AI-based solutions in areas of public interest and in society.

Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 3 – Cybersecurity and Trust shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. support the building-up and procurement of advanced cybersecurity equipment, tools and data infrastructures, together with Member States, in order to achieve a high common level of cybersecurity at European level, in full compliance with data protection legislation and fundamental rights, while ensuring the strategic autonomy of the Union;
  2. support the building-up and best use of European knowledge, capacity and skills related to cybersecurity and the sharing and mainstreaming of best practices;
  3. ensure a wide deployment of effective state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions across the European economy, paying special attention to public authorities and SMEs;
  4. reinforce capabilities within Member States and private sector to help them comply with Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council including through measures supporting the uptake of cybersecurity best practices;
  5. improve resilience against cyberattacks, contribute towards increasing risk-awareness and knowledge of cybersecurity processes, support public and private organisations in achieving basics levels of cybersecurity, for example by deploying end-to-end encryption of data and software updates;
  6. enhance cooperation between the civil and defence spheres with regard to dual-use projects, services, competences and applications in cybersecurity, in accordance with a Regulation establishing the European Cybersecurity Industrial, Technology and Research Competence Centre and the Network of National Coordination Centres (the ‘Cybersecurity Competence Centre Regulation’).

Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 4 – Advanced Digital Skills shall support the development of advanced digital skills in areas covered by the Programme in order to contribute to increasing Europe’s talent pool, bridge the digital divide and foster greater professionalism, especially with regard to high performance and cloud computing, big data analytics, cybersecurity, distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), quantum technologies, robotics, AI, while taking gender balance into account. In order to tackle skills mismatches and to encourage specialisation in digital technologies and applications, the financial contribution shall pursue the following operational objectives:

  1. support the design and delivery of high-quality, long-term training and courses, including blended learning, for students and for the workforce;
  2. support the design and delivery of high-quality, short-term training and courses for the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector;
  3. support high-quality on-the-job training and work placements for students, including traineeships, and the workforce, in particular in SMEs and in the public sector.

Specific Objective 5 – Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacities and Interoperability

The financial contribution from the Union under Specific Objective 5 – Deployment and Best Use of Digital Capacities and Interoperability shall pursue the following operational objectives while bridging the digital divide:

  1. support the public sector and areas of public interest, such as health and care, education, judiciary, customs, transport, mobility, energy, environment, cultural and creative sectors, including relevant businesses established within the Union, to effectively deploy and access state-of-the-art digital technologies, such as HPC, AI and cybersecurity;
  2. deploy, operate and maintain trans-European interoperable state-of-the-art digital service infrastructures across the Union, including related services, in complementarity with national and regional actions;
  3. support the integration and use of trans-European digital service infrastructures and of agreed European digital standards in the public sector and in areas of public interest to facilitate cost-efficient implementation and interoperability;
  4. facilitate the development, update and use of solutions and frameworks by public administrations, businesses and citizens, including of open-source solutions and the re-use of interoperability solutions and frameworks;
  5. offer the public sector and the Union industry, in particular SMEs, easy access to testing and piloting of digital technologies and increase the use thereof, including their cross-border use;
  6. support the uptake by the public sector and the Union industry, in particular SMEs and start-ups, of advanced digital and related technologies, including in particular HPC, AI, cybersecurity, other leading edge and future technologies, such as distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain);
  7. support the design, testing, implementation, and deployment and maintenance of interoperable digital solutions, including digital government solutions, for public services at Union level which are delivered through a data-driven reusable solutions platform aiming to foster innovation and establish common frameworks in order to unleash the full potential of the public administrations’ services for citizens and businesses;
  8. ensure the continuous capacity at Union level to lead digital development, in addition to observing, analysing and adapting to fast-evolving digital trends, and share and mainstream best practices;
  9. support cooperation towards achieving a European ecosystem for trusted data sharing and digital infrastructures using, inter alia, services and applications based on distributed ledger technologies (e.g. blockchain), including support for interoperability and standardisation and by fostering the deployment of Union cross-border applications based on security and privacy by design, while complying with consumer and data protection legislation;
  10. build up and strengthen the European Digital Innovation Hubs and their network.
Link Link to Programme
Call
Preparatory actions for the data space for skills
Description of call
"Preparatory actions for the data space for skills"

Objective:

The objective is to develop a secure and trusted data space to support sharing and accessing skills data for various purposes, from analytical and statistical purposes to policy development or re-use in innovative applications. Interoperability of the data should be at the heart of the delivery. The data space should provide easy, cross-border access to key datasets, deploying trust mechanisms (security and privacy by design) and develop data services matching European values, in particular of ethics, diversity and privacy.

The Digital Decade strategy sets ambitious targets to bridge the digital skills gap by 2030: at least 80% of all adults to master basic digital skills and 20 million employed digital technology specialists, with more women taking up these jobs. Several important initiatives at European level as well as national/regional level will contribute to this target, making thus crucial that data be shared across all initiatives. The outcomes of this preparatory action will contribute to these overall Digital decade targets.

Companies and organisations in Europe face major shortage of digital experts especially in advanced disciplines such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, cloud, internet of things or blockchain. Universities are not delivering enough qualified specialists to the labour market and companies lack the ability to provide appropriate reskilling and upskilling opportunities to their employees. The Preparatory action should outline how the data space on skills could expand the offer of reskilling and upskilling opportunities and thus stimulate their digital transformation.

Data offers enormous potential for innovative applications: Databases of job offers, lists of curricula and certifications, inventory of topics studied at all levels of education can help better defining human resource, training, business or educational policy strategies and needs for organisations and entreprises. Matching the skills required in the published job offers with job seekers could help to reduce the supply/demand gap of digital experts on the job market.

The current landscape of data providers and curators in the digital skills and education domain is wide and the level of fragmentation at European level is high, with many private and public actors, from job search websites, online learning providers to school administrations, ministries, universities, etc.

This action will seek to identify the most relevant and reliable sources and to describe how they complement each other and how their data can be re-used. The list of publications, reports, studies and data sources published on the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform offers an indicative but not exhaustive overview. Schools, universities, learning organisations, businesses, students, HR organisations and employment agencies make daily use of data, from job and occupational profiles, vacancies and skills, to available trainings, degrees and graduate numbers. Many of the education and skills data are highly sensitive, involving personal information. They also have a huge potential to improve skills intelligence and HR planning, learning material and processes, through artificial intelligence, data analytics or advanced technologies.

Scope:

The project will explore conceptual approaches and possible options and for the future deployment of this data space. Provisions for transparent and ethical data access and use, development of governance and business models for the data space are to be developed considering, among others, the evolving regulatory environment, cross-data-space elements, interoperability, equality, privacy and security issues.

The action should relate its outcomes to the Digital decade strategy and its targets. It should outline how the results will help public administration, education institutions, enterprises and other organisations to contribute to reaching these targets.

The action should explore how a wider use of digital skills and education data by enterprises and organisations can support them in designing upskilling, reskilling and hiring strategies and stimulate their digital transformation. It should describe how it will ensure data interoperability and outline how the digital skills data will be made available for re-use to other services such as the Digital Skills and Jobs Platform.

The action will engage the community of stakeholders involving organisations at EU/multi-country level, public administrations and/or governmental bodies, private and public actors (Including IT developers and end-users), education and training providers. In particular, the project will:

  • Undertake an inventory of existing platforms collecting, storing and sharing education and skills data, in particular related to the green and digital transformations.
  • Outline a methodology on assessing the relevance and credibility of the digital skills data analysed
  • Explore different possible design approaches for the data space (e.g. serving private data sharing and interests, that are also complemented by public data, serving private and public interests), and elaborate the advantages and disadvantages,
  • Propose/design conceptual approaches for the set-up of a data space allowing the sharing of high-quality data on qualifications, learning opportunities, training, jobs and skill sets of job seekers between relevant stakeholders.
  • Investigate possible ways of visualisation and user-friendly presentation of the analysed data
  • Outline a growth and roll out strategy for the data space, including services and applications that could be envisaged in the future
  • Develop a multi-stakeholder governance scheme of the data space with involvement of key actors of the digital skills, education and jobs community,
  • Get broad consensus on the approach, governance, and business models.

The action will have to work in partnership with the Data Spaces Support Centre (see Work Programme 2.2.2.1) in order to ensure alignment with the European Data Spaces Technical Framework and the rest of the ecosystem of data spaces in Work Programme section 2.2.1 thereof. The joint work will target the definition of:

  • the data space reference architecture, building blocks and common toolboxes to be used;
  • the common standards, including semantic standards and interoperability protocols, both domain-specific and crosscutting;
  • The data governance models, business models and strategies for running data spaces.

Expected Outcome:

  • An inventory of existing platforms collecting, storing and sharing data relevant for education and skills (public and private). A particular focus should be placed on the analysis of skills relevant for attaining the targets of the Digital Decade.
  • A proposed design approach based on scenarios with corresponding business models covering all major stakeholders’ needs.
  • A multi-stakeholder governance scheme specific to the sector
  • A blueprint for the data space including an architecture considering common building blocks and interoperability.
  • Interim results in due time to inform the development of the implementation action to be supported under the next Work Programme.
  • Input to the work of the Data Spaces Support Centre.
Link Link to Call
Thematic Focus Digitisation, ICT, Telecommunication, Community Integration, European Citizenship, Shared Services, Administration & Governance, Capacity Building, Cooperation Networks, Institutional Cooperation, Clustering, Development Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Green Technologies & Green Deal, Children & Youth, Education & Training, Employment & Labour Market
Funding area EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Liechtenstein
Moldova
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Origin of Applicant EU Member States
Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs)
Iceland / Ísland
Israel / ישראל / إسرائيل
Liechtenstein
Moldova
Norway / Norge
Serbia / Сpбија
Turkey / Türkiye
Ukraine / Україна Oukraïna
Eligible applicants Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, SMEs (between 10 and 249 employees), Other, Enterprise (more than 250 employees or not defined), Public Services, Federal State / Region / City / Municipality / Local Authority, National Government, Research Institution, Microenterprises (fewer than 10 employees), Start Up Company, University, Lobby Group / Professional Association / Trade Union, NGO / NPO, Education and Training Centres
Applicant details In order to be eligible, the applicants (beneficiaries and affiliated entities) must:
  • be legal entities (public or private bodies)
  • be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
    • EU Member States (including overseas countries and territories (OCTs))
    • listed EEA countries and countries associated to the Digital Europe Programme or countries which are in ongoing negotiations for an association agreement and where the agreement enters into force before grant signature
  • Natural persons are NOT eligible (with the exception of self-employed persons, i.e. sole traders, where the company does not have legal personality separate from that of the natural person).
  • International organisations are NOT eligible, unless they are International organisations of European Interest within the meaning of Article 2 of the Digital Europe Regulation (i.e. international organisations the majority of whose members are Member States or whose headquarters are in a Member State).
  • EU bodies (with the exception of the European Commission Joint Research Centre) can NOT be part of the consortium.
Project Partner Yes
Project Partner Details Proposals must be submitted by:
  • a consortium of at least 3 applicants (beneficiaries; not affiliated entities) and which complies with the following conditions:
    • minimum 3 independent entities from 3 different eligible countries
Project duration max 12 months
Further info Proposals must be complete and contain all the requested information and all required annexes and supporting documents:
  • Application Form Part A — contains administrative information about the participants  and the summarised budget for the project (to be filled in directly online)
  • Application Form Part B — contains the technical description of the project (to be downloaded from the Portal Submission System, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded)
  • mandatory annexes and supporting documents (to be uploaded):
    • list of previous projects (key projects for the last 4 years)
    • ethics issues table
    • ecurity issues table
Proposals are limited to maximum 50 pages (Part B).
Type of Funding Grants
Financial details The available call budget is EUR 1,000,000. This budget might be increased by maximum 20%.

Funding rate: 100% - Coordination and Support Actions (CSA)

Project budget (maximum grant amount): EUR 1,000,000 per project
Submission Proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funding & Tenders Portal. Paper submissions are NOT possible.

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