Skills for SMEs: A vision and roadmap to foster adoption of cybersecurity, big data and IoT

  • After some of its key points found their way into the EC’s new SME Strategy, the SKILLS for SMEs project’s final report brochure can be downloaded here
  • The project consortium calls for a European public-private Skills4SMEs Partnership to provide leadership in digital skills policies
  • Digital skills for SMEs are becoming even more necessary with the Corona crisis, and digital SMEs are taking the lead in its mitigation

Supporting specialised skills development: big data, Internet of Things (IoT) and cybersecurity for SMEs is a two-year initiative, initiated by the European Commission and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). The initiative is managed by a consortium of Capgemini Invent, Technopolis Group and European DIGITAL SME Alliance. We developed a vision, roadmap, and toolbox to help SMEs advance their skills development in the areas of cybersecurity, big data, and IoT.

SMEs are lagging behind in digital innovation

The digitalisation of SMEs is an important but challenging task. Despite market volume or business growth opportunities, most SMEs keep lagging behind in new technology adoption. This might hurt them in the long term. Cyber-risks are threatening business continuity. Companies using large amounts of data and IoT will manage to produce higher-quality services or products at lower costs and push non-digital SMEs out of the market. European SMEs run the risk of missing out on big market potential. They are lacking access to highly skilled graduates and experienced workers as the competition for talent becomes increasingly fierce. Research shows that already more than 90% of European SMEs consider themselves as lagging behind in digital innovation.

The consortium initiated a comprehensive data collection on the state-of-play of major technological and market trends concerning big data, IoT, and cybersecurity, and the take-up by SMEs in Europe, as well as the strategies, policies and initiatives in the EU and the United States related to this subject. This led to preliminary insights on the extent to which SMEs are able to adopt new technologies, their skills needs, the barriers they face and how they approach skills development.

A dedicated partnership for skills

The initiative proposes to develop a European Skills4SMEs Partnership dedicated to building a stronger alliance between the public and the private sector to offer leadership and a vision for skills development for SMEs in Europe. The Partnership should be accompanied with dedicated investments that enable a long-term, strategic approach and reduce uncertainties by allowing for long-term commitments. The proposal includes recommendations for a training & education platform, to gather intelligence to develop foresight, to strengthen ecosystem leadership and in general to contribute to Europe’s digital sovereignty. The proposal is accompanied by a detailed roadmap describing measures to be applied across stakeholders in Europe. The goal is to work towards increased adoption of cybersecurity, big data and IoT by European SMEs by strengthening ecosystems and structurally enhancing the supply of necessary skills, as well as facilitating organisational development in tandem.

Over 200 experts contributed to the workshops, interviews, surveys and the successful conference of October last year. It shows that the urgency of the topic is understood broadly, and the need for collective action to facilitate the access of SMEs to a larger European talent pool is evident. It also shows the commitment of this expert group to bring this topic forward on the short term.

Digital Skills and tools in times of COVID-19

The report and brochure are published in disturbing times, where COVID-19 is impacting SMEs across Europe. Obviously, much more is needed in the short term to support SMEs in continuing their operations and to recover from the impact of COVID. #SMESvsCOVID19 is a campaign to promote digital solutions offered by European digital SMEs to mitigate the effects of the crisis. Find it here: digitalsme.eu/solutions. Digital skills development will remain very important to support business growth over time and to contribute to Europe’s digital sovereignty.

The final materials of this initiative are published on the European Commission Publication Office’s website: