CEPIS Newsletter

Welcome to the new issue of the CEPIS newsletter. In this issue:

Important: CEPIS Requests Your Consent for Using Personal Data for Delivering our Newsletter


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming into force on 25 May 2018. In order to comply with the Regulation's requirements, CEPIS needs to obtain your consent for using your personal information (name, surname and email address) to contact you. We will therefore be updating our contact lists. If you wish to keep receiving CEPIS newsletters, please kindly sign up again through the homepage of CEPIS website; it takes only a moment. If you do not sign up, you will no longer receive any communications from CEPIS.

Thank you for your cooperation, and we hope you will take time to resubscribe - we would like to continue keeping you informed!

ITPE to Provide Forum for Experts after the Closure the CEN Workshop on ICT Skills

19 April 2018 saw the final meeting of the CEN Workshop on ICT Skills. The workshop had been in existence for 15 years, and CEPIS had been participating in and chairing it for most of that time. During the meeting e-CF expert, Jutta Breyer, presented the final version of the European ICT Professional role profiles CEN Workshop Agreement. The workshop Chair, Mary Cleary, from the Irish Computer Society, led a discussion on further projects to be undertaken by CEN Technical Committee 428, which is responsible for the IT Professionalism dossier.

CEPIS Secretary General, Austeja Trinkunaite, presented the IT Professionalism Europe (ITPE) network, as the next platform for CEN Workshop members to continue the discussions and collaboration on IT professionalism topics. This work will kick off with an ITPE meeting on 5 June in Brussels.

Save the Date: Robotex Cyprus 2018 Organised by Cyprus Computer Society

The Cyprus Computer Society is organising the 2nd National Robotics Competition, ROBOTEX Cyprus 2018. Robotex International is an annual event and the biggest robotics festival on the planet. ROBOTEX CYPRUS 18 will take place on 23 and 24 June 2018, at the Sports Centre of the University of Cyprus.

The participating groups will be creating robots using the ENGINO, LEGO, EDISON and ARDUINO platforms to take part in the various challenges, while the winners will also be able to participate at the ROBOTEX International 2018, which will take place in Estonia from 30 November to 2 December 2018. Challenges such as a robot (SUMO) duel and maze robot exit (MAZE) as well as the educational robotics of primary school children are expected to appeal, not only to young contestants, but also their friends and families who will attend to support them.

For more information, please visit the website of Robotex Cyprus.

Role of Standardisation in ICT Highlighted in Latest Edition of European Commission’s Rolling Plan on ICT Standardisation

A ‘Rolling Plan on ICT Standardisation’ has been published by the European Commission, outlining developments in all aspects of ICT standardisation, including skills, cybersecurity, and green ICT.

The 2018 edition of the plan is the latest update to an annually refreshed plan, and now includes chapters on blockchain and regulatory technology. The plan highlights the links between ICT standardisation activities and EU legislation and was developed with the input of members of a Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation, which includes stakeholders in the area.

As part of the plan, the e-Competence Framework is mentioned as providing, “an efficient and broadly accepted common European language about knowledge, skills and competences of the ICT professional workforce”.

CEPIS and ITPE strongly support efforts to promote professionalism in ICT, including the e-Competence Framework, and highlight the important role that standardisation and certifications have in fostering professionalism in the sector.

The full rolling plan and an executive summary can be found on the website of the European Commission.

First EU-wide Legally Binding Cybersecurity Directive Becomes National Law

Today, 9 May 2018, is the deadline for the Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems (NIS Directive) to become a national law in all EU countries. It is a landmark occasion, since the NIS Directive is the first piece of legislation on cybersecurity that is legally binding in all EU member states. The Directive establishes a high common level of security of network and information systems across the EU.

European Commission Vice-President, Andrus Ansip, with Commissioners Dimitris Avramopoulos, Julian King and Mariya Gabriel, issued a joint statement praising the adoption of the Directive. They also stressed that “to further boost the Union's cybersecurity, the EU should swiftly give a strong and permanent mandate to its Agency for Cybersecurity, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and establish an EU framework for cybersecurity certification. Together with Member States we should also complete the joint work on the blueprint for cooperation in the event of large scale cross-border cybersecurity incidents and crises that mainstreams cybersecurity to existing crisis management mechanisms at EU level. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme is providing €38 million in funding until 2020 to support NIS Directive stakeholders."

The Directive was adopted in August 2016 and is a major part of the effort to scale up the EU's cybersecurity capabilities. Member States will have a further six months to identify operators of essential services that will fall in the scope of the Directive – businesses that operate in sectors vital for the economy and society and rely strongly on ICTs.

The full statement can be found on the website of the European Commission, which has also produced a concise factsheet on the NIS Directive.

Informatics for All Coalition Releases New Strategy

Informatics Europe RML

The Association for Computing Machinery’s Europe Council (ACM) and Informatics Europe have co-developed a new strategy, titled ‘Informatics for All: The Strategy’. The strategy offers a comprehensive plan to establish informatics as a fundamental subject for students in Europe at all educational levels. The strategy was presented at a panel discussion with leading informatics educators, computer scientists, and European Commission leaders in Brussels on 15 March 2018. Furthermore, CEPIS’s Computing in Schools Chair, Robert McLaughlin, and CEPIS’s Secretary-General, Austeja Trinkunaite, attended the event and expressed their support for this initiative.

The strategy highlights the need to develop a two-tiered approach for establishing informatics in Europe’s educational systems. The first tier of the plan is to set informatics as a specialisation that is considered as a fundamental and independent subject. The second tier of the approach is to integrate informatics with other school subjects. However, more research is needed to determine the appropriate implementation of a full action plan. Furthermore, the coalition approached CEPIS to join as a partner to provide expertise and to help with the implementation of the strategy throughout Europe.

The full strategy and recommendations can be read on the website of ACM.

Call for Action on Digital Education and Digital Opportunity Scheme Launched at Educate to Create Conference in Bulgaria

On 19 and 20 April, CEPIS attended the Educate to Create conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. The conference was organised by the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU and the European Commission.

Throughout the two-day event, the digital skills gap and the lack of women in ICT dominated the discussions. The lack of skills for teachers, the lack of both basic and advanced digital skills and competences, the deficit of professionals across Europe, and the severe underrepresentation of women in digital – all of these subjects were discussed by major stakeholders from European institutions, academia, government, and the private sector. The European Commissioners, Tibor Navrascics and Mariya Gabriel, both reminded the attendees about some depressing statistics. 80 million Europeans lack basic digital skills, including 15% of young people; there are 350,000 unfilled digital jobs, only 20% of ICT graduates are women – the list was long.

Two countermeasures were showcased in the event: one was the Sofia Call for Action, where stakeholders committed to contribute to overcoming these challenges. The other was the European Commission’s Digital Opportunity Scheme, the initiative that will give more than 5,000 students internships in ICT professions relating to AI, cybersecurity, blockchain, machine learning, web design and others.

European Commission Publishes New Blockchain in Education Study

A new report on blockchain in education, from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, explores the way that the technology could disrupt institutional norms and empower learners.

Blockchain is a decentralised, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers, which means that records cannot be altered retroactively without the altering of all subsequent components.

The new report notes that the new technology could improve any activity that is based on timestamped record-keeping. Within education, the report argues that blockchain technology has numerous applications in the awarding of qualifications, licensing and accreditation, management of student records, intellectual property management, and payments.

The use of blockchain technology in education could greatly reduce the administration costs to education institutions and introduce several innovations. One example explored in the report is the use of blockchain technology to accelerate the end of a paper-based system for certificates because certificates issued by educational organisations can be permanently and reliably secured using blockchain technology. The report concludes by stating that while blockchain applications for education are still in their infancy, they still disrupt the market in student information systems and loosen the control current players have over this market.

The full report can be found on the website of European Commission.

Stack Overflow Survey Shows Developers Lack Clarity with Ethical Issues

In a new survey from Stack Overflow, a popular Q&A website on topics related to computer programming, the results show that developers lack clarity in dealing with ethical issues. The research was released as a part of their Annual Developers Survey, which provides insight into the latest trends among developers, and received input from over 100,000 respondents.

The results of the survey showed that 57.5% of developers felt that it was upper management that was responsible for the development of unethical code, defined as code that may have negative implications for the user. Indeed, only a fraction of developers said that they would write unethical code or that they have no obligation to consider the ethical implications of code, while 79.6% of survey respondents gave a positive answer when asked if developers must consider the ethical implications of their code.

However, while the majority of developers agree that there should be established ethical practices, few agree on how to proceed. For instance, many developers reported that they are unsure as to how they would report ethical problems.

See the full results of the survey on the website of Stack Overflow.

EU Horizon 2020 Calls for Proposals in Digital Security Published

The European Commission has announced that a number of calls for proposals in the area of digital security are open under the major Horizon 2020 programme.

The calls for proposals cover a range of activities around digital security, with closing dates ranging from 29 May to 28 August, and can be found on the website of the European Commission.

OECD Report Highlights Rural Digital Divide

A new report by the OECD looks at the digital divide in rural areas and examines how technology could bridge the divide. The ‘Bridging the Rural Digital Divide’ report, which is part of the OECD Digital Economy Papers series, covers a broad range of issues around the digital divide in remote and rural areas, and presents an overview of policies and technological developments that could impact the gap.

The report notes the importance of digital literacy in enabling access to the benefits of technology, stating that it links, “strongly with a population’s capacity to be innovative, productive and creative, and to participate in democracy and the digital economy.” Continuing, the report states, “Even where broadband Internet services are available, individuals may not be able to use the service to its fullest potential based on their level of digital literacy.”

The full report can be downloaded from the website of the OECD.

Almost Half of Europeans Lack Basic Digital Skills According to EU Index

44% of Europeans lack basic digital skills according to the latest edition of the EU’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). The Index, based on composite data, gives an overview of how digital technology is used across Europe, across a number of dimensions.

In the ‘Human Capital’ dimension, which covers digital skills, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands scored highest, while Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy performed the worst.

Detailed information about the Index can be found on the European Commission’s website.

State of Play on National Qualifications Frameworks Presented in Cedefop Briefing Note

Cedefop has published a new briefing note on the state of qualifications frameworks in Europe in 2017. The publication, made available in February 2018, considers the status of development of National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs), the impact that NQFs are having, and a number of other areas. At present, 39 European countries are in the process of developing or implementing NQFs; 35 of those have already formally adopted their NQFs.

The briefing note also looks at areas such as the integration of ‘private-sector and international’ qualifications, noting the development of procedures to include such qualifications in the Netherlands, France, Ireland and the UK.

The full briefing note can be downloaded from the website of Cedefop.

Upcoming Events

31 May 2018 ITPE National Briefing. Paris, France.

5 June 2018 ITPE Meeting. Brussels, Belgium.

13 - 14 June 2018 Annual Privacy Forum 2018. Barcelona, Spain.

19 June 2018 More women in digital: a strategy for growth and equality Conference. Brussels, Belgium.

25-26 June 2018 Digital Assembly 2018. Sofia, Bulgaria.

6-21 October 2018 EU Code Week. Europe-wide.

4-6 December 2018 ICT 2018. Vienna, Austria.