Bridging the e‐skills gap in Central and Eastern Europe: The growth of e‐skills and employability initiatives in the newly expanded European Union
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The European Union faces a labor gap that threatens its goal of becoming a world leader in the knowledge economy and challenges social inclusion and economic modernization — especially with the recent admission of ten Central and East European countries. This study examines the relationship between basic ICT skills (or e‐skills) and employability, focusing on NGO e‐skills training and employability programs in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Poland, and Romania. Researchers conducted in‐depth interviews with program staff and beneficiaries to identify factors that contribute to employability — as well as complementary program elements that create the conditions for people to gain employment experience, find jobs, and meet new work demands. Researchers also investigated how NGOs integrate employability into their ICT training programs and, at a broader level, whether these programs constitute a fragmented, patchwork approach or if there evidence of a larger regional trend to build e‐skills among underserved populations. Findings show how NGOs play a critical role by creating new programs, revitalizing existing programs, and forming partnerships. NGOs reach out to sectors of society left behind by regional social and economic transformations — functioning as catalysts for inclusion. More specifically, NGOs demonstrated: (1) an ability to help the unemployed find jobs, (2) a commitment to enabling the most marginalized people to reconnect with society, and (3) successes in boosting the productivity of businesses and government during the transition from communism to free market democracies. The report also discusses the contributions of local and national governments, the private sector, the European Union Commission, and other civil society organizations.
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