Republic has one of the lowest levels of basic digital skills

European Commission published 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index on Friday

Overall, the Republic has moved up three places to sixth in the rankings since last year.

Overall, the Republic has moved up three places to sixth in the rankings since last year.

 

The Republic has one of the lowest levels of basic digital skills in the EU, according to the European Commission.

The commission published the results of the 2018 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) on Friday, which monitors the performance of member states in digital connectivity, digital skills online activity, and digital public services.

Overall, the Republic has moved up three places to sixth since last year.

However, just 48 per cent of individuals have at least basic digital skills. Despite a 4 percentage point improvement over the last year, this is still one of the lowest levels in the entire EU.

With more than half of the adult population lacking at least basic digital skills, the Republic “continues to suffer from information and communications technology (ICT) skills shortages”.

The proportion of enterprises who tried to recruit ICT specialists, but experienced difficulties, has consistently remained above 50 per cent since 2012.

The Republic also fell significantly behind other EU countries with regard to the number of people actively using the internet. This is the same as last year at 79 per cent, but because of progress made in other EU states, it is in 17th place.

However, the State has been ranked as the best in the euro zone for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates.

It topped the table in STEM, the use of online trading by SMEs and open data, which is the freedom and transparency of data.

Improved

The State has “considerably improved” its performance in the connectivity dimension, now ranking 11th among EU countries compared to 15th in 2017.

By contrast, 6 per cent of rural homes still have no access to any fixed broadband connection. Three quarters of households take-up fixed broadband, which is below the EU average. It is however relatively expensive compared with most other EU states.

In digital public services, the State ranks top for open data and is in second place for business services. However, it ranks comparatively low when it comes to the user-friendliness of services and the use of eHealth services.

“Addressing the gaps in human capital and connectivity would help improve Ireland’s positioning in the remaining dimensions,” the commission said. “These two aspects are also critical for individuals, enterprises and public bodies to make the best use of digital technology.”

Andrus Ansip, European Commission vice-president for the digital single market, said the EU as a whole was making progress. “This is a shift, albeit small, in the right digital direction,” he said.

“As a whole, the EU is making progress but not yet enough. In the meantime, other countries and regions around the world are improving faster.

“This is why we should invest more in digital and also complete the digital single market as soon as possible: to boost Europe’s digital performance, provide first-class connectivity, online public services and a thriving e-commerce sector.”