5. Way forward

Moldova is currently preparing its new National Digital Strategy (NDS), the Digital Transformation Strategy 2023-2030, which sets the development of digital literacy as a key objective. Several actions are already foreseen, such as further improving digital skills in education systems, reducing digital divides and involving the diaspora in digital projects.

Drawing on the results of the previous NDS, Moldova could:

  • Broaden the scope of its approach to digital skills and include life-long learning opportunities for individuals to upskill/reskill to meet changing labour market demand. The OECD recently published a method for designing and assessing NDS (Gierten and Lesher, 2022[1]). The report lists the policy domains that such strategies should cover in order to be comprehensive, based on the OECD Going Digital Framework (see Box 3.1); these include, inter alia, SMEs, skills, labour markets, and entrepreneurship.

    • Moldova could also consider emphasising digital security (i.e. digital risk management and consumer protection): given the country’s shortcomings in this area, training and awareness raising could be useful for both citizens and businesses that need to develop their knowledge of these risks and their ability to manage them; ultimately, this can help build trust in digital technologies to encourage their uptake.

    • Finally, policy makers should keep in mind the fast-evolving environment and changes in new technologies, and therefore allow for enough flexibility for policies to be adaptable in that regard: in terms of education systems, for instance, curricula might need updates every couple of years, and schools might require new tools and equipment.

  • Set clear policy objectives associated with measurable targets and budgets in order to ensure effective implementation and avoid the caveats reported from the previous Strategy:

    • With regard to implementation, the strategy should define, for each measure, clear roles for stakeholders, as well as estimated costs, to help mobilise funding and prevent subsequent implementation failures. Box 5.1 provides guidelines for costing action plans and could help Moldova estimate the budget needed to implement the actions foreseen;

    • With regard to monitoring, outcome indicators should be included: for training, for instance, indicators should not only monitor the number of trainings or participants, or the volume of spending, but the extent to which the training fostered skills development. This could be done immediately after the training, e.g. through participants’ feedback or pre- and post-training assessments, and/or in the longer term, six or twelve months after completion of the training, which enables to better track if the programme helped participants get a new job, increased professional responsibilities, and/or a salary raise. This monitoring approach enables policy makers to assess not only the level of implementation, but also the concrete policy impact.

Moldova has already had successful experiences of co-operation between governmental and external stakeholders, such as ATIC, in designing and implementing digital skills policies. However, additional actors could be involved in the process – both public ones to enhance policy coherence and foster regional development, and non-governmental ones to tap into their expertise and ensure that policies meet the needs of the ultimate beneficiaries. To this end, Moldova could:

  • Build a whole-of-government approach. The crosscutting nature of digital skills policies demands such an all-encompassing policy approach. Considering the impact of new technologies on jobs, labour markets and social protection, digital skills policies should be designed in co-ordination and complementarity with labour market policies (OECD, 2019[3]). Moving forward, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection should therefore be more involved, to ensure synergies with the national employment strategy, for instance, and foster the reskilling/upskilling of incoming or returning migrants. The National Employment Agency could also play a role, e.g. by helping implement digital skills assessment and anticipation exercises (see below). Latvia for instance established in 2016 an Employment Council encompassing the Ministries of Economy, Education and Science, and Welfare (the latter being responsible for labour market policies and the National Employment Agency) to facilitate discussions and coordination between Ministries. This collegial and informal platform aims at promoting changes in the labour market and harmonising cross-institutional cooperation in the planning, development, implementation and monitoring of labour market reforms and skills labour market needs, and thereby reduce inconsistencies in the Latvian labour market. Moreover, bridging digital divides between urban and rural areas and spreading the benefits of digitalisation in regions is a goal linked to regional and local development policies, and thus requires the participation of regional and local authorities.

  • Strengthen the links with non-governmental stakeholders, who are crucial to shaping and supporting implementation of the NDS (Gierten and Lesher, 2022[1]). Policy makers need to plan consultations with actors directly affected by skills policies, i.e. employers for the private sector (OECD, 2020[4]) and teachers for education (OECD, 2019[3]). The latter can help shape policies by informing on what type of technology and related skills would be most useful, in which area(s) they would need additional training, and subsequently contribute to effective policy implementation. Indeed, the latest LMO’s survey revealed that 34% of employers deem closer co-operation with them as the priority for policy makers to gain a better understanding of the skills and competences needed to address skills gaps in the labour market (Labour Market Observatory, 2022[5]). The involvement of private sector employers can also be fostered by strengthening the co-operation with industry associations, including in non-IT sectors. The latter can share their experience to provide policy makers with a better understanding of the skills needed in the labour market and the ones young graduates tend to lack. Their involvement can be enhanced e.g. by developing Industry Expert Councils, which gather state representatives, industry associations and trade unions. Industry associations can also help implementing digital skills programmes, thereby maximising the programmes’ outreach, reducing human resources needed by the public administration, and fostering a learning culture within industries. Higher Education Institutions could also be more involved, as they can provide courses, including programmes to up-skill and re-skill workers (i.e. life-long learning); foster knowledge exchange and collaboration, e.g. via incubators and accelerators; and develop online training solutions, such as webinars and MOOCs (OECD, 2022[6]). Private training institutions can also contribute to the development of life-long learning opportunities.

  • Consider setting up a national digital skills coalition, in order to step up and formalise the involvement of these different stakeholders, and ensure co-ordination across the ecosystem for digital skills. The EU4Digital initiative has developed guidelines for EaP countries to establish such coalitions (see Box 5.2) and organised events around it. Moldova could build on this work and co-operation with the EU and on the willingness expressed by ATIC to launch such partnership, which would also bring the country closer to EU practices.

  • Improve data collection on levels of digital skills: in order to get better insights into the current level of digital skills and the remaining gaps among individuals and firms, Moldova could widen the range of statistics collected as well as their granularity. Data on generic and complementary digital skills, especially among businesses, remain very scarce. Gathering such information, broken down by skills type, sex and firm size, would help inform policymaking and adjust both school curricula and training programmes to better meet the population’s needs. OECD and EU databases, such as the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) and Eurostat, offer useful examples of indicators that could be considered (Table 5.2). Adopting OECD methodology would also help bring the country closer to OECD and EU standards.

  • Implement a digital skills framework to serve as a common reference: as highlighted above, one of the main challenges when assessing skills is the gap between formal credentials and labour market requirements (OECD, 2016[13]). Moldova has already designed a digital competence standard for students and teachers; developing such framework for digital skills tailored to labour market needs could help employers in recruiting staff and incentivise individuals to continue learning by offering them the opportunity to certify their skills (OECD, 2019[3]). This would also facilitate skills assessment by providing standards against which to evaluate competencies. The EU4Digital initiative has developed a Competence framework for SMEs in 2020, based on the European e-Competence Framework (e-CF) and Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp1) (Box 5.3). Providing a dedicated methodology, guidelines on how SMEs can use the framework, and examples of job role profiles, this Framework offers a ready-to-use solution and would foster harmonisation with EU standards and across EaP countries.

  • Create a self-assessment tool for digital skills: self-assessment questionnaires appear as a very useful and affordable tool, not only to help respondents better understand where they stand and what they could improve, but also to provide data and insights on digital literacy levels for further analysis. Moldova has already implemented a comprehensive online self-assessment tool for SMEs to assess their level of digital maturity, including questions on their uptake and use of different digital technologies. A similar instrument could be developed for individuals, including SME managers and employees, to evaluate their digital skills and identify their needs for additional training. Several countries have implemented such tools. The Digital Skills Accelerator Online Assessment offers a good example in that regard: created by the European e-learning institute, the questionnaire covers basic and intermediate digital skills and benchmarks them against the DigComp standards. Its comprehensive and practical approach, entailing skills that are directly relevant in a professional environment, makes it relevant for both the labour force and in education systems. Box 5.4 below provides an overview of its main features and assets. Implementing such framework should be accompanied by awareness-raising activities to foster uptake. Such questionnaire is most useful when combined with tailored advice: the Digital Skills Accelerator Online Self-Assessment Tool for instance generates a list of suggested trainings depending on the respondent’s results. For firms more specifically, the assessment could be accompanied by tailored support on how to meet skills needs, to help non-digitalised businesses build a relevant strategy and navigate the training opportunities available.

  • Further develop the labour market forecasting system to allow for more insights into digital skills, consistency, reliability, and longer-term projections: in order to strengthen its approach to skills assessment and needs anticipation, Moldova could build on its existing labour market forecasting system and on the section on skills most needed by employers introduced in the 2022 edition to gain insights into digital skills needs. In terms of methodology, the projections could go beyond the short term and entail a longer-term perspective (e.g. for the next 3, 5 and 10 years) to support multi-year policy planning. The pool of respondents could also be broadened and include a larger representation of small, medium, as well as micro firms. Moreover, replicating the methodology every year by asking the similar questions would help improve consistency and allow for comparability between years, which could ultimately feed into a quantitative forecasting model. With regard to content, the methodology could include additional layers of detail, i.e. asking questions about employers’ needs for generic and complementary digital skills, about the type of trainings firms are providing or intend to provide, and/or about foreseen investments in digital technologies. Finally, awareness of the results should be raised to ensure they are taken into account in policymaking. Latvia offers an interesting example of such a comprehensive labour market forecasting system (Box 5.5).

  • Conduct skills-need studies of selected sectors: in addition to the development of the labour market forecasting system and in view of developing skills-specific tools, Moldova could implement sectoral studies to gain insights into each sector’s specific needs for skills, including digital ones, with a common methodology applied to all sectors to avoid inconsistencies. These could take the form of skills surveys: compared to other options (see Table 3.2), surveys have the advantage of being relatively easy to develop and implement, and foster direct user/customer involvement. The approach could take inspiration from Estonia’s experience: OSKA, the Estonian anticipation and monitoring system for labour and skills demand, analyses the needs for labour and skills for the next ten years (Box 5.6). It has been conducting sectoral studies every year since 2016, for up to five sectors a year. It applies the similar methodology to all sectors, allowing for comparability, and relies on a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. One of its strengths lies in its public-private sectoral expert panels, which oversee and validate the survey results, and the follow-up on results and recommendations; this ensures that relevant measures are taken.

  • Encourage skills assessment and needs anticipation at company-level: SMEs often lack awareness of the skills they need, including digital ones, and especially beyond the short-term (OECD, 2017[17]). While digitalisation programmes entailing training activities often offer preliminary assistance in identifying training needs, additional measures can help SME managers in developing internal capacity to perform such assessments. These can focus on building HR services, assessing the company’s needs, and/or improving management practices (OECD, 2021[18]). Self-assessment tools can help in that regard, but other instruments can directly incentivise SMEs to conduct regular skills needs evaluation: France, for instance, has implemented a programme for strategic workforce planning called GPEC (Forecast management agreement for jobs and skills) (Box 5.7). In place for over a decade, this instrument encourages SMEs to carry out diagnoses of their employees’ needs and to adapt their corporate strategies accordingly.

Building on the considerable efforts provided by ODA and its partners over the past years, the following could increase the effectiveness of digital skills trainings:

  • Expand the range of topics covered by digital skills trainings: ODIMM’s (now ODA’s) previous digitalisation programme included five modules, mostly focused on helping SMEs adopt and improve e-commerce practices. The latter aims at building a basic understanding of e-commerce opportunities, but several aspects remain uncovered – such as how to connect with global value chains, how to ensure digital security, and how to be in line with the recently adopted e-commerce legislation. Training courses should not focus merely on technical skills, but should also teach participants how to implement these skills in daily routines and processes. More generally, training providers should gain a deeper understanding of SMEs’ needs (e.g. via the results of the digital maturity questionnaire, exchanges with business representatives of different sectors, as well as insights from the skills assessment and anticipation policy options outlined above) and subsequently identify priority areas for additional trainings. A sectoral approach could be considered, as SMEs show significant heterogeneity, with different tools and skills needs across sectors (OECD, 2021[20]). Training providers should also take into account the differences in skills needs between SME managers and employees when designing training offers: SME managers and entrepreneurs often lack knowledge of digital opportunities and therefore need help in designing a digitalisation strategy and identifying the most relevant digital tools, while employees lack skills to successfully implement new technologies. Complementary skills should not be overlooked, since soft skills, such as problem solving, teamwork, digital mind-set and resilience, are essential for a firm to undergo a digital transformation. Finally, access to trainings in the regions of Moldova could be further developed, as beneficiaries of current digitalisation support have been concentrated in Chișinău so far. This could be done e.g. via online trainings, or building on regional infrastructure, such as Tekwill’s upcoming regional centres.

  • Offer certification of competences acquired on the basis of a digital competence framework: upon completion of digital skills trainings, training providers could offer the opportunity for participants to certify the skills acquired. The digital competence framework suggested above, or the EU’s DigComp example, could serve as a basis for that. Such acknowledgment would help ensure the quality of the education received, while helping employers in recruiting qualified staff.

  • Ensure quality of training by strengthening monitoring and evaluation practices: in order to refine the assessment of the tools’ impact, additional outcome indicators could be considered to collect participants’ feedback on the trainings provided. This could be done via simple surveys after each training, asking the extent of skills improvements (none, partial, substantial). Alternatively, pre- and post-training assessments could be conducted to collect insights that are more objective. Following up with participants six or twelve months after completion of the training would help to capture the impact of trainings, if they helped them get a new job, additional tasks, a salary raise, and/or to perform better.

  • Raise awareness of the range of trainings available: open and proactive communication between training providers and companies is essential to maximise the outreach and uptake, especially for SMEs, which often lack access to information. In addition to the trainings implemented by the different stakeholders, more could be done to improve the visibility of the support offered for digital skills development and to help firms and individuals navigate and select the programmes most appropriate for their needs. Various tools can be used to this end – e.g. a single information portal online, which can also help maximise the outreach in regions. Spain for instance has developed such a platform, the Acelera Pyme platform. A similar instrument could be implemented and managed by ODA, in co-operation with private sector stakeholders. Beyond trainings, the portal could gather information about digitalisation processes, sharing best practices and case studies, as well as the self-assessment tool suggested above. It could also offer the possibility to book a remote consultation with experts from ODA, which would help reach regions. Communication campaigns and/or dedicated awareness-raising events are additional options that could be envisaged to circulate information more efficiently.

  • Develop incentives to encourage on-the-job training: in order to help SMEs overcome their lack of internal capacity and financial means, and to foster continuous skills development, Moldova could develop support for on-the-job training. These take different forms and often rely on both financial and non-financial tools. Germany, for instance, has implemented the “Securing the skilled labour base: vocational training and education (CVET)” programme (Fachkräfte sichern: Weiterbilden und Gleichstellung fördern), which includes provisions to foster staff development and training capacity within small businesses (Box 5.8). Work-based learning is another common practice, which enable students to develop practical skills outside of school. Although these instruments do not target digital skills specifically, some of them could still be considered for future programmes to help SMEs improve their training capacity and gain a long-term strategy for human resources management and life-long skills development.

  • Build SMEs’ capacity and learning culture by fostering peer learning: in addition to above-mentioned training courses and advisory services, peer learning is another, non-financial means to help SME managers develop a learning culture and relevant skills beyond external trainings. Measures that combine peer learning and individual support services appear as most efficient to support investment in digital skills (OECD, 2021[18]). Moldova could therefore complement its current policy approach with initiatives to foster exchanges among managers and entrepreneurs, which could be implemented by ODA or business associations for instance. Box 5.9 provides examples from OECD countries that have delivered conclusive results. These foster direct communication between companies, but other digital tools can also be useful – an online platform to exchange virtually on learnings and ideas, such as Germany’s www.experimentierraeume.de, or an online manual of good practices promoting successful examples from selected companies, such as the cross-country project InnovaSouth.


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← 1. The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens offers since 2013 a reference for digital competence initiatives, as well as a basis for framing digital skills policy. For more information, see https://joint-research-centre.ec.europa.eu/digcomp/digital-competence-framework_en.

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