I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 123 together.
The share of the population with basic or above basic digital skills is tracked on an annual basis by EUROSTAT, and the results published in the European Commission's Digital Economy Society Index (DESI).
On the basis of the latest available data, which is for 2017, and which features in the 2019 edition of the DESI, 48% of Ireland's population have at least basic digital skills, which compares with an EU average of 57%- also for 2017. In Ireland's case, this is an increase on 44% in 2016.
28% of Ireland's population meanwhile have above basic digital skills, a figure that also refers to 2017, and which compares to an EU average of 31%. For Ireland this is also an increase on the 2016 level of 25%.
The importance of digital skills to the future of Ireland's workforce is recognised in the Government's Future Jobs Ireland , which aims to help prepare Ireland for the economy of tomorrow. Technological advances and the transition to the low carbon economy present challenges but also numerous opportunities as our businesses and workers learn to operate in a changed economy.
In addition to support from Government to exploit these opportunities, investment by enterprises to innovate is required and our people will also need to learn new skills. The enhancement of digital skills will be core to the vision set out in Future Jobs Ireland , which includes efforts to embrace innovation and technological change and the improvement of SME productivity.
One of the key targets set out in Future Jobs Ireland is to increase the share of the population with basic or above basic digital skills from its 2017 baseline of 48%, to equal or greater than the EU average by 2025. This is complemented by an ambition to double Ireland's lifelong learning rate from a 2017 baseline of 8.9% to 18% by 2025.
The means by which these targets will be realised are set out under pillar 3 of Future Jobs , on enhancing skills and developing and attracting talent- the majority of these initiatives will be progressed by the Department of Education and Skills and its agencies.
These include the development of digital literacy curricula at school level, the implementation of Upskilling Pathways- New Opportunities for Adults, the Skills to Advance and EXPLORE upskilling programmes for lower skilled workers, the expansion of apprenticeship and traineeship offerings, Springboard+ courses in new technologies, Skillnet Ireland training provision in digital skills development and emerging technologies, and the roll out of the new Human Capital Initiative within the Higher Education sector.
These initiatives are in turn being supported through reforms to the National Training Fund, to align it more directly with the changing skills requirements of the Irish labour force.
Other commitments in Future Jobs Ireland 2019 complement these initiatives and recognise the role that employers have in supporting the upskilling of employees. Future Jobs Ireland 2020 will build on these commitments and introduce additional actions which will result in further progress in this area.