The Internet is now present almost everywhere in Europe, with more and more Europeans accessing it on mobile devices, shows the latest overview of digital progress in the EU. This fact lies in stark contrast with another finding, namely that almost half of the same population has little or no computer skills.
The June 2012 to May 2013 EU Digital Agenda Scoreboard has revealed that basic broadband connections are now available virtually everywhere in Europe and that the proportion of Europeans that have never used the Internet is continuing its steady decline (down 2 percentage points to 22%). Connected users also do more online, shop online more and use eGovernment services more, including advanced ones.
As already indicated in last years’ assessment, an increasing number of people are beginning to use mobile devices to go online. 36% of Europeans are now accessing the internet via a portable computer or other mobile device, with access via mobile phone up from 7% in 2008 to 27% in 2012. 4th generation mobile (LTE) coverage tripled to 26% in one year.
However, as more and more Europeans go mobile, there still remains a large number of them that claim to have little or no computer skills.
No improvement over the last year
The Scoreboard showed that neither the amount nor the level of ICT user skills has improved over the last year. 67% of individuals in Europe now have some level of computer skills: 26% have high skills, 25% medium skills and 16% low skills. 33% had none of the skills defined in the survey. As such almost 50% of the EU population still has little or no computer skills.
Given the growing necessity for digital skills in Europe – in particular, the projected 90% of jobs that will soon require some digital skills – it seems much needs to be done to improve the digital skills levels of EU citizens, and the perception of more than half of the labour force that their current digital skills are not sufficient were they to look for another job.
Missing out on future benefits
But lack of ICT skills is not the only setback Europe is faced with: while 54% of EU citizens now have at their disposal fast broadband available at speeds greater than 30 Mbp, only 2% of homes have ultrafast broadband subscriptions (above 100 Mbps), far from the EU’s 2020 target of 50%. Though it is true that Europeans have basic digital networks and services, they are missing out on the main current and future benefits of the digital revolution because of problems in Europe’s telecoms and wider digital markets, warns the European Commission.
To this end European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes has called for measures to create a Single European Telecoms Market as early as possible, bringing several social and economic benefits, among them the end of roaming charges and net neutrality.
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