2. Creating the institutional and policy framework for digital skills

Digital skills are a cross-cutting topic, involving education, labour market and research and innovation policies, and therefore require comprehensive approaches and concerted efforts for effective cross-government co-ordination (OECD, 2019[1]). Such policy efforts should ensure the development of foundation, generic and complementary skills at all education levels, and the opportunity to develop advanced ones, as well as learning systems that are both life-long (i.e., accessible by any citizen regardless of their age), and life-wide (i.e., enabling the recognition/certification of competences developed outside formal education systems) (OECD, 2020[2]). Policies should therefore be comprehensive, with clear objectives, budgets, allocation of responsibilities among stakeholders and monitoring systems to ensure effective implementation and conclusive results.

The Government of Moldova has included the development of digital skills in several strategies. The NDS Digital Moldova 2020, adopted in 2013, acknowledges the increasing ICT skills gap and the low level of digital skills among the population, teachers, public sector employees and businesses, and sets improving digital literacy as one of its three key objectives (Government of Moldova, 2013[3]). The topic is also embedded in the Strategy of Development for the IT Industry and Digital Innovation Ecosystem 2018-2023, and the Ministry of Education complemented this approach with additional documents such as the Education Development Strategy 2014-2020.

These efforts have borne fruit, especially with regard to innovations in the education system. A range of changes has been introduced to emphasise the digital component in the school curriculum at all levels. A digital education module is now mandatory in primary school, for instance, and standards on digital competences have been introduced to recognise learning outcomes for primary, secondary and high school students. The measures, implemented at national level, might help address digital gaps among children of different genders, socio-economic status and locations. Moreover, they have been accompanied by the establishment of online platforms and efforts to address the shortage of IT equipment in schools, as well as significant developments in teacher training – a major yet often overlooked aspect of digital skills policies (OECD, 2019[1]), e.g., through courses, the development of digital competence standards, and of a methodology to ensure continuous professional training.

Complementary skills are also taken into account, with initiatives such as “Tekwill in every school”, that develop interactive digital content and introduce new pedagogical methodologies to develop critical thinking, creativity and interpersonal skills. Finally, the optional IT courses now available in middle and high schools on various topics (e.g., web design, C/C++, AI, entrepreneurship) and career guidance events organised with ATIC are a welcome development to help generate interest for IT topics and raise awareness of digital tools. Moldova has also worked towards building a talent pool of IT specialists through scholarships, updates to university curricula and the involvement of industry professionals as faculty teachers. However, structured initiatives to foster lifelong learning opportunities and the development of digital business skills beyond the ICT sector remain at a nascent stage.

Despite these achievements, the provisions on digital literacy, e-skills and digital inclusion planned in the previous NDS reportedly suffered from implementation gaps. These areas lacked sufficient institutional support and project implementation capacities, which impeded their realisation. Economic and political instability, with successive changes of government and rising inflation, led to delays. Insufficient budget allocations were also an obstacle to implementation. Moreover, the concrete impact of the strategy is yet to be assessed: with regard to education systems, for instance, the OECD PISA 2018 results show Moldova lagging OECD peers in terms of number of computers per student at school, STEM performance and basic digital skills such as using keywords when operating a search engine (Figure 2.1).

Moldova’s governance of digital skills policies is characterised by strong private-sector involvement. A recent example of co-operation mechanisms is the creation of an ad hoc consultative body, the Digitalisation Committee “iConsiliu”, formed within the Economic Council under the Prime Minister in October 2021. This platform enables public and private actors to gather and discuss draft projects and legislation, such as the amendments adopted in 2021 under the “digitalisation packages”, thereby involving them in the design of policies and programmes. ODA also benefits from having private sector representatives sitting on its governing body, which enables them to propose and promote policy initiatives (OECD et al., 2020[5]).

More generally, the private sector has been a driving force for digital skills initiatives: ATIC acts as a key player, providing a wide range of services, such as training courses and awareness-raising campaigns. The Association also implements one of the flagship public-private partnerships, the ICT Centre of Excellence Tekwill, launched in 2017, which carries out various initiatives to support digital skills development among Moldovans of all ages, social and professional backgrounds (see Box 2.1). Future policy plans include the replication of this model outside the capital city, notably in Cahul, Comrat and Balti. This close public-private co-operation allows not only tapping into the expertise of the private sector when delivering support, but also nurturing policymaking with views from businesses, which helps ensure a close match between needs and service delivery. Moreover, the Tekwill project contributes to the development of the digitalisation ecosystem by encouraging sectoral collaboration between representatives of IT and traditional industries, e.g. agriculture (ITU, 2021[6]).

The digital skills ecosystem has been further strengthened on the back of the COVID-19 outbreak. New resources were developed (e.g. online platforms Education Online and Invat.Online), and the government sought to mobilise private actors to provide ad hoc solutions (e.g., mobile operators offered free internet connection to teachers). In addition, public-private co-operation was formally enhanced through several memoranda of understanding, e.g., between the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Education, ATIC and Tekwill on the Development of Digital skills, IT and STEM throughout life in 2020, but also with private firms such as Google and Microsoft, to support the use of digital technologies in schools. Moldova is also increasingly co-operating with international partners such as the EU, USAID and UNDP, and has a good record of leveraging donor support for digital skills projects.

While Moldova benefits from these successful examples of public-private partnerships and consultations, stakeholder involvement could be further strengthened. As digital skills policies are linked to several policy areas, a whole-of-government approach is needed to ensure complementarity between policy documents and co-ordination between the stakeholders involved (OECD, 2019[1]) (OECD, 2020[2]). In Moldova, the main stakeholders on digital skills policies are the Deputy Prime Minister for Digitalisation, appointed in 2021 to act as a co-ordinator and merged with the Ministry of Economy1 in February 2023; the Ministry of Economy; the SME agency, ODA; and the Ministry of Education for aspects linked to formal education. The Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the National Employment Agency (Agenția Națională pentru Ocuparea Forței de Muncă, ANOFM), however, have played a limited role so far. Yet digital skills are a pressing topic for labour market policies given the changing nature of jobs and increasing skills mismatches outlined in Chapter 1 above and in the OECD Skills Outlook 2019 (OECD, 2019[1]). More generally, the country could still work on building a whole-of-government approach and improving employers’ and teachers’ involvement in policy design.

In order to facilitate collaboration among all relevant stakeholders, the majority of EU member states have implemented national coalitions for digital skills and jobs as part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe (European Commission, 2022[8]). These bring together public and private actors, as well as business and education providers, who can then develop concrete measures together. Table 2.1 compares the actors involved in such coalitions, the dimensions they cover, and the level at which Moldova is currently addressing them.


[9] EU4Digital (2020), eSkills: Guidelines for National Digital Skills Coalitions, https://eufordigital.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Guidelines_25052020.pdf (accessed on 27 April 2022).

[8] European Commission (2022), National coalitions for digital skills and jobs, https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/national-coalitions (accessed on 20 June 2022).

[3] Government of Moldova (2013), STRATEGIA NAŢIONALĂ DE DEZVOLTARE A SOCIETĂŢII INFORMAŢIONALE ,,MOLDOVA DIGITALĂ 2020” [NATIONAL STRATEGY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INFORMATION SOCIETY “DIGITAL MOLDOVA 2020”], http://mei.gov.md/sites/default/files/strategia_moldova_digitala_2020_857.pdf (accessed on 14 February 2022).

[6] ITU (2021), Republic of Moldova: Digital Development Country Profile, https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Regional-Presence/Europe/Documents/Publications/Digital%20Development%20Country%20Profiles/Archives/Digital%20Development%20Country%20Profile_Moldova_29.10.21.pdf.

[2] OECD (2020), OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2020, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/bb167041-en.

[1] OECD (2019), OECD Skills Outlook 2019: Thriving in a Digital World, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/df80bc12-en.

[4] OECD (2018), PISA Database, OECD Publishing, https://www.oecd.org/pisa/data/ (accessed on 10 February 2022).

[5] OECD et al. (2020), SME Policy Index: Eastern Partner Countries 2020: Assessing the Implementation of the Small Business Act for Europe, SME Policy Index, OECD Publishing, Paris/European Union, Brussels, https://doi.org/10.1787/8b45614b-en.

[7] Tekwill (n.d.), Tekwill - About Us, https://tekwill.md/about/ (accessed on 22 June 2022).


← 1. The Ministry became the Ministry of Economic Development and Digitalisation following this merger.

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