OECD calls on Aus­tria to speed up dig­i­tal tran­si­tion

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

The Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) warned Aus­tria that its tran­si­tion to­wards dig­i­tal­iza­tion was lag­ging be­hind most rich coun­tries, and that the gaps rel­a­tive to the oth­ers have even widened in re­cent years.

“The dif­fer­ences are par­tic­u­larly strik­ing for tasks re­lated to the in­ter­net such as real-time dis­cus­sions, email­ing, or ex­e­cut­ing trans­ac­tions on­line,” the Paris-based OECD, a wealthy-coun­try think-tank, said in a re­port pub­lished yes­ter­day.

In par­tic­u­lar, Aus­tria’s small- and mid-cap com­pa­nies were slow in adopt­ing innovative in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy, the or­ga­ni­za­tion said. Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Chris­tian Kern set out am­bi­tious ob­jec­tives for the tran­si­tion to a dig­i­tal econ­omy to close those gaps in Jan­uary, when he in­tro­duced a 10-year plan fo­cused on cre­at­ing jobs and boost­ing pub­lic in­vest­ment.

His “dig­i­tal roadmap” aims to pro­vide high-speed broad­band in­ter­net to the re­motest parts of the Alpine coun­try by 2020. It also out­lined an ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tive to start dig­i­tal ed­u­ca­tion as early as pos­si­ble and make sure no child leaves school without dig­i­tal com­pe­ten­cies.

The govern­ment’s plan needs a trans­par­ent mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem with time­lines, and should in­te­grate a dig­i­tal skills plan for small firm own­ers and man­agers, the OECD rec­om­mended. It also said that a chang­ing de­mand in skills had af­fected the equal­ity of op­por­tu­ni­ties in Aus­tria.

An ed­u­ca­tion re­form project, which started in 2015 and in­cludes mea­sures to in­crease the au­ton­omy of schools and teach­ers, should be in­ten­si­fied and spe­cial em­pha­sis needs to be put on teacher train­ing. Co­or­di­na­tion across the many stake­hold­ers of the Aus­trian ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, which in­cluded dif­fer­ent min­istries headed by dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties and dif­fer­ent au­thor­i­ties, needed to im­prove to make sure learn­ing tracks bet­ter fit chang­ing la­bor mar­kets re­quire­ments, the OECD said. — Reuters

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