Ukraine’s digital skills drive: Q&A with Mykhailo Fedorov

ITU

ITU News asked Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, about his country’s ambitious digital transformation plans.

What is the Ukrainian government doing to foster national digital transformation?

The goal of Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation is to build the most convenient, people-centred state possible – a country without queues, corruption and bureaucracy.

In 2020, we managed to lay the foundation for building a digital state.

My ministry now has four main goals for the next three years:

  • Transfer 100 per cent of services online – so if a service is not online, it simply doesn’t exist.
  • Ensure 95 per cent coverage of transport infrastructure and settlements across the country with high-speed Internet.
  • Reach six million Ukrainians with a digital skills development programme.
  • Boost the share of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to 10 per cent.

We have an ecosystem of Diia (Action) projects aimed at making the life of every Ukrainian as comfortable as possible – free from waiting in lines, corruption, and filling out incomprehensible forms. It also includes educational projects to strengthen people’s digital skills and provide all the necessary information for starting business.

How can digital skills development advance economic growth in Ukraine?

Before Diia, no one in Ukraine had any idea how many citizens had digital skills and what kind of users those were. So the government undertook its first-ever survey of people’s digital skills.

The survey showed that 53 per cent of people have less than a basic ability to do things online.

This prompted the Diia Digital Education project. The point is to ensure every citizen feels comfortable, enjoys easy access to all online services, and can succeed in job hunting.

Digitalizing the Ukrainian economy will boost GDP growth by at least 4 per cent per year.

How are you implementing the policy to develop digital skills?

Diia Digital Education includes two components – online and offline.

The online component provides about 70 educational series spanning a vast range of topics – from paying bills to conducting online classes during a COVID-19 lockdown.

There are no boring lectures, only exciting sessions with experts and celebrities, filled with clever dialogue, improvisations and jokes. This format has so far proven effective, with 70-80 per cent of users watching all episodes in the series, passing final tests, and receiving certificates.

The platform has already been visited by 2.5 million Ukrainians, and about 800,000 have registered and started training.

Notably, these videos were not made with public funds. All of them were made with partner support from individual donors, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.

How else can viewers prepare themselves for the digital future?

The platform lets users assess their level of digital literacy with Digigram, a national test that helps people test their skills and understand what they need to work on. After the test, users receives an electronic certificate with the level of their digital competencies – from the basic A1 to the advanced C2. It will help with job hunting, as more and more employers require digital skills.

The first national Digigram test was launched last year. It has 90 questions and assesses 30 digital competencies are assessed, from media literacy and digital content creation to personal safety in the digital environment. The methodology was adapted from a European Union framework.

This year we have launched four new versions for specific audiences: Digigram 2.0 for Citizens, Digigram for Teachers, Digigram for Civil Servants, and Digigram for Healthcare Workers.

The offline component involves a network of 6,000 hubs provided by partner institutions — libraries, administrative service centres, and educational centres, where anyone can obtain free access and the help of qualified trainers.

Earlier this year, cabinet ministers approved the National Concept for the Development of Digital Competences and the associated action plan.

How can the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens help to boost national development?

At the initiative of the Ministry of Digital Transformation, Ukrainian experts adapted the conceptual and reference model of the Digital Competence Framework for EU citizens, DigComp 2.1., to fit the national, cultural, educational, and economic characteristics of Ukraine.

This document outlines the knowledge and practical skills citizens will need to use modern tech and compete in the Ukrainian and European labour markets.

These key competencies span six areas:

  • basic computer literacy;
  • information literacy and the ability to work with data;
  • creation of digital content;
  • communication and interaction in the digital society;
  • security in the digital environment; solving problems in the digital environment; and
  • lifelong learning.

The possibilities for practical application are wide. For example, professional standards and job requirements could change.

These criteria could be integrated into testing, surveying, certification, attestation, training programmes, and educational resources. Local authorities can use these to improve digital literacy down at the community level.

See ITU’s Digital Skills Insights 2021.

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