Following the Skills Agenda1 adopted in June 2016, the European Commission launched the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills. It supports cooperation among education, employment, and industry stakeholders with the goal of improving the digital skills of the wider population, not just IT professionals.
The context of this call for proposals (call) is defined in section 3.17 of the 2019 Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Telecom Work Programme2 as published on the call page on the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) website.3 Its background and rationale are defined in section 3.17.1 of the 2019 – 2020 Work Programme.
2. PRIORITIES & OBJECTIVES
2.1 Priority outcomes
The priority outcomes of this call for proposals are defined in section 220.127.116.11 of the 2019 – 2020 Work Programme.
The call aims to support the development of generic services4 at national level. It will finance the connection of the infrastructures (websites) of National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalitions (hereafter referred to as National Coalitions) with the Core Service Platform through interoperable links, integrating and enabling exchanges with the Core Service Platform components. It will help National Coalitions and other stakeholders to provide coherent and structured content and services on digital skills in the official Programme 2019 and 2020 for financial assistance in the field of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF)
Telecommunications sector, amended by Commission Implementing Decision C(2019)2782 final of 16 April 2019.
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language(s) of the Member State where the coalitions/networks of actors are based, or Norwegian/Icelandic as appropriate, hereafter referred to as official language(s).
Generic services provided through the National Coalitions/networks of actors’ infrastructures in combination with the Core Service Platform will make digital skills initiatives from all over Europe more accessible. These services will highlight good practices and financing opportunities, gather information about digital skills intelligence and careers. They will help students and job seekers to find training/traineeship opportunities, support enterprises in addressing skills needs, train employees, facilitate scale-up of innovative training solutions, strengthen cooperation between the National Coalitions/networks of actors, and enable learning across sectors and borders.
Particular attention will be paid to reskilling and upskilling of the labour force at all levels, in the area of basic and advanced user digital skills and ICT specialist skills5.
This Digital Service Infrastructure (DSI) will be built in two phases:
The first phase that started in 2019 focuses on the development of a Core Service Platform (CSP) at European level as a single point-of-access to digital skills content. It also defines the architecture for information sharing and interoperability among the Core Service Platform and the national infrastructures e.g. websites or portals of National Coalitions/networks of actors.
The second phase starts with this call for proposals for the generic services, and focuses on development and interconnection of National Coalitions/networks of actors’ infrastructures to the CSP and access to national/regional/local actors and practices, building interoperable links to provide services relevant to the local context. As a result, the National Coalitions/networks of actors acting on reducing the digital skills gap at national level will be able to share their activities and content from their country to the CSP and to other national coalitions/networks of actors, and vice-versa. European and national resources on digital skills will be easily searchable, accessible, available, and usable in official language(s).
The technical specifications for the CSP and its services will be placed on the call webpage: https://ec.europa.eu/inea/en/connecting-europe-facility/cef-telecom/apply- funding/2019-digital-skills-jobs.
2.1.1 DSI generic services
The proposed actions supported by this call must cover all of the following three activities:
Activity 1: Web development
Development or upgrade of one national website/database per participating Member State.
The national website, serving as a “web antenna (or link)” to the Core Service Platform, will provide content and data on digital skills and jobs in a coherent and structured way in the official language(s). Content must include interoperable links to the Core Service Platform as well as other national web antennas.
Additional information on the technical standards to be followed is available in the technical specifications6.
Activity 2: Services, Content and Community related activities
Expected outputs to be delivered in official language(s) and published on the national website:
2.1. Presentation of the National Coalition/network of actors and its members: An interoperable part based on the technical specification provided under activity 1, covering digital skills for the labour force, ICT professionals and other digital experts, education, citizens.
2.2. Presentation of relevant parts of the Core Service Platform content: EU initiatives in digital skills and jobs7, EU funding opportunities, news, events, etc. In addition to the compulsory parts, National Coalitions/networks of actors can choose to present additional relevant content from the Core Service Platform according to their territorial needs and specificities.
2.3. Create and implement an interoperable repository of good practice(s), using the API model (activity 1) and connected to the Core Service Platform repository based on guidelines and a common, uniform approach. The proposed action must select and promote good practices that address gaps and local specificities. On the national website, this repository must display as a minimum the following features:
At least 8 additional good practices chosen from the Core Service Platform and/or other national coalitions/networks of actors websites. The selection should cover from basic to advanced digital skills.
Create and implement an interoperable repository of resources on digital skills, with an area for self-assessment tools for digital competencies and specific sections making available national and regional strategies and measures, training curricula, non-proprietary MOOCs, details on methodologies, case studies and other training material.
Present relevant and innovative training opportunities on advanced digital skills currently available targeted at end users, using the API model. Presented training opportunities should cover diverse settings (on-line, classroom, boot camps, work-based) and diverse formats (part-time, full-time, short term), offered by a wide range of providers (industry, formal education and training, open learning) to ensure flexibility and relevance to users. The website should allow stakeholders to submit for publication upcoming training opportunities on digital skills via an online interface and the beneficiary(ies) should implement a review procedure prior to publication. If such platforms/databases presenting relevant training offers on digital skills already exist at national and or regional level, the beneficiary(ies) should ensure visibility and links to those databases to facilitate search of relevant training opportunities by end users and increase overall transparency.
Present funding opportunities for digital skills at national and European level, including for example relevant calls for proposals, loans for upskilling (e.g. income sharing agreements) and other financial instruments.
Events: Each coalition/network of actors should regularly publish relevant events in their online calendar, ensuring interoperability with Core Service Platform system.
News production and skills intelligence: each National Coalition/network of actors must allow Coalition/network members and stakeholders to post/comment on/discuss news on various digital skills-related topics and information/data on the skills most needed in the country. It should also regularly publish news announcements.
Webinars/online events, peer-to-peer learning and exchange of experience. The National Coalition/network of actors must organise and publish at least two webinars to inform stakeholders in the country and other National Coalition/networks of actors about digital skills development, approaches, and good practices. The beneficiary(ies) must also contribute, through national digital skills experts, to at least 8 webinars/workshops organised by the Core Service Platform coordinator, to peer review the content of the Core Service Platform and identify links with national content and stakeholders.
2.10.Communication, promotion and community management: The beneficiary(ies) should ensure, in agreement with the Core Service Platform owner, a common layout with recognisable features and sufficient promotion and communication about the content published on the national website. This will also encourage replicability and facilitate scaling of innovative solutions. In particular, the beneficiary(ies) should disseminate press releases and use online communication tools, such as newsletters and social media. It should also support the members’ efforts to inform their audiences about the platform services and content. It should encourage stakeholders to contribute actively to online activities on the Core Service Platform and make resources available through the repository.
Activity 3: Post-editing and localisation of content
The National Coalitions/networks of actors must provide translation of content and post- edit services from English to the official language(s) and vice versa, rendering content relevant for the local context.
In particular, the national website must reuse the information on the Core Service Platform by publishing it in their official language(s) (e.g. EU policy information, skills intelligence, selected good practices, events, news, funding opportunities, content relevant for national stakeholders and activities). Conversely, the National Coalitions/networks of actors will review English translations of their content for the Core Service Platform, which will disseminate information from the national websites (e.g. good practices, funding/training opportunities, events, news).
The beneficiary(ies) will access services from the eTranslation CEF Building Block8. They will need to review the texts translated into their official language(s) from the machine translation system and post-edit them before publishing. Similarly, the beneficiary(ies) will also review the automatic translation into English of content from the national websites before publishing on the Core Service Platform.
2.1.2 General provisions
In the proposed Actions, the beneficiary(ies) is/are expected to:
Outline the methodology for the selection of good practices, training offers and related resources (see points 2.3-2.4-2.5 above under activity 2) and explain how this methodology ensures their high quality. The proposed Action should demonstrate how the foreseen promotional activity (see point 2.9-2.10 above under activity 2) takes into account dimensions like replicability and visibility/accessibility for end users.
Encourage registration of all National Coalition/network of actors members to the stakeholder engagement tool of the Core Service Platform, and support their participation in related discussions and activities.
Ensure regular and frequent updates/exchanges of data between the Core Service Platform and the national website.
Ensure appropriate compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). When relevant and lawful, the beneficiary(ies) will comply with the obligation to inform the individuals by sending privacy notices and by obtaining consent. The notice regarding the information on the publication of personal data, or the consent request, will need to refer not only to the publication on the national antenna website, but also on any further publication of the same information on the Core Service Platform and on all the other National Coalitions/networks of actors’ websites connected to the platform, which might republish the information in their national official languages.
Report on their activities to Core Service Platform coordinator on an annual basis. By the end of the Action, the beneficiary(ies) must be in a position to demonstrate convincingly that all three mandatory activities listed in point 2.1.1 have been duly accomplished in accordance with required specifications.
Results expected from the financial assistance
The benefits and expected outcomes of this call for proposals are defined in section 18.104.22.168 of the 2019 – 2020 Work Programme.
The DSI will result in a network of interoperable National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition or equivalent actors’ websites and related databases linked to the EU-level Core Service Platform, providing coherent and structured content and services on digital skills in the official language(s) of the participating Member States.
The European Platform for Digital Skills and Jobs (Core Service Platform with the generic services) will become a single point-of-access for digital skills development in the Member States. It will foster a deeper understanding of digital skills needs in the EU and support a coordinated response to the digital skills shortages and skills mismatches challenging the development of the Digital Single Market. This DSI will also support building the infrastructure and the community for the digital skills actions foreseen in the next EU Multiannual Financial Framework, and notably in the Digital Europe Programme.
Date of publication of call for proposals
Friday 5 July 2019
Deadline for submission of proposals
Thursday 14 November 2019 (17:00.00 Brussels time)
Evaluation of proposals
December 2019 – February 2020 (indicative)
Consultation of the CEF Committee
April 2020 (indicative)
Adoption of the Selection Decision
May 2020 (indicative)
Preparation and signature of grant agreements
Between May and August 2020 (indicative)
4. BUDGET AVAILABLE
The total budget earmarked for the co-financing of projects under this call for proposals is estimated at €1 million.
Maximum one grant per Member State will be funded. For the form of grant and maximum funding amount, please consult section 11.1 below.
The Commission reserves the right not to distribute all the funds available. 6
The Commission reserves the right to award a grant of less than the amount requested by the applicant.
5. ADMISSIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
In order to be admissible, proposals must be:
Submitted no later than the deadline for submitting applications referred to in section 3 on Timetable;
Submitted in writing (see section 14), using the application forms9 and electronic submission system available at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/tentec/grant/esubmission10. In this respect, proposals or part(s) of proposals submitted by e-mail or hard copy will not be admissible;
Complete, i.e. all parts of the application form (A, B, C or D) are complete and uploaded in TENtec;
Duly signed by the applicant(s).
Failure to comply with any of these requirements will lead to the rejection of the application.
6. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
6.1 Eligible applicants
In accordance with the 2019 – 2020 Work Programme and pursuant to Article 9 of the CEF Regulation,11 only those proposals submitted by the following types of applicants are eligible:
A Member State;
With the agreement of the Member State or EEA country concerned, international organisations, Joint Undertakings,12 or public or private undertakings or bodies established in the Member State or EEA country.
For proposals with a single applicant (no consortium), only proposals submitted by the coordinator of a National Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition/network of actors will be eligible under this call. For proposals with multiple applicants (a consortium), any Coalition/network member may participate as a consortium member in any proposal that includes its coordinator. For countries where a National Coalition does not exist, the applying entity/entities must be members of an equivalent network of actors from industry, civil society, training providers, social partners, or public authorities, which are acting to reduce the digital skills gap in the Member State/EEA country.
The fulfilment of these requirements will be ensured through the endorsement of the relevant Ministry responsible for the approval of CEF Telecom proposals via the application form part A.2.3 available in the electronic submission system. By signing the A.2.3 form, the Ministry will give the assurance that each applicant is a member of the National Coalition or equivalent network of actors of the Member State/EEA country concerned. The signature of the Ministry will also certify that the Coalition or the network of actors satisfies the definition of such groupings stated in section 17 below, and that the coordinator of the National Coalition/network of actors is among the applicants.
In accordance with section 5.3.1 of the 2019 – 2020 Work Programme, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) may participate13 in the call for proposals, even when not explicitly mentioned in the Work Programme text, with the same rights, obligations and requirements as EU Member States. At the time of call publication, these conditions apply to Norway and Iceland only.
Applicants without legal personality
Proposals may be submitted by entities which do not have legal personality under the applicable national law, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf and offer a guarantee for the protection of the EU's financial interests equivalent to that offered by legal persons.
Proposals submitted by natural persons are not eligible.
Applicants may designate affiliated entities within the meaning of Article 187 of the Financial Regulation, for the purpose of supporting the implementation of the action submitted for funding. Such affiliated entities must comply with the eligibility criteria for applicants.
Member State agreement
Any applicant that cannot provide the agreement of the EU Member State or EEA country concerned will not be eligible.
6.2 Eligible actions
In line with Article 7 of the CEF Regulation, only actions contributing to "projects of common interest" as identified in the Telecom Guidelines14 shall be eligible for support through EU financial aid in the form of grants.
Please note that failure to comply with any of the eligibility criteria indicated above will lead to the rejection of the application.
The Action may not start before the date of submission of the application.15
The indicative duration of an Action proposed under this call is 3 years.