By Supantha Mukherjee
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The European Union risks falling behind its Digital Decade goals by 10 years unless the governments focus on bridging the skills gap, according to a report by strategic consultancy Public First.
Last year the European Commission presented a 2030 vision that aims to transform the region with 80% of the population acquiring basic digital skills, 5G connectivity everywhere, full online public services and 75% of EU companies using cloud services.
However, at the current rate of progress, it would take until 2040 for meet all the targets, according to the report, which was commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and will be released later on Thursday.
The EU is on track to unlock 1.3 trillion euros ($1.36 trillion)in economic value by 2030, but if the progress is accelerated, up to further 1.5 trillion euros in additional benefits could be generated by the end of this decade, the report said.
"The biggest blocker we have heard from our customers and what stated in this report as well is the lack of digital skills," Tanuja Randery, Managing Director at AWS, told Reuters.
As companies' migration to the cloud is expected to be a big growth driver, many firms such as AWS have been offering free training for employees to acquire cloud skills or job seekers to get into the tech field.
However the report stated that only 61% of the EU's population is projected to have basic digital skills by 2030, short of the 80% target.
Among factors that could accelerate progress towards EU's targets, the report suggested an increase in cloud, artificial intelligence and big data adoption by EU businesses, and more government funding for research and development.
Many companies have not adopted new tech tools and a shortage of skilled workers would likely hamper growth and increase costs, it said.
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(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, European Technology & Telecoms Correspondent, based in Stockholm; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)