Is Palermo ready for the digital future?

Jul 15, 2019News

A qualitative research in Palermo and Italy about digital skills, future technologies and the Sicilian labour market as part of the E-DESIGN Project

Digital skills are becoming increasingly important in the daily lives of many Europeans as a growing share of personal and professional tasks are carried out exclusively online[1]. They facilitate economic, social and political participation of citizens, but not everyone possesses the skills necessary to be active part of the new “digital age”[2], especially in Southern European countries who systematically underperform in terms of ICT education, advanced digital skills and programming compared to the other Member States[3]. For instance, Italy has the 4th least developed digital market of Europe. Digital skills do not only include technical skills, but also understanding the technology, problem solving and other necessary skills that are a great part of our present but especially future life.

Within this context, the project E-DESIGN – European Digital Education for Social Inclusion and Global Neighbourhood, financed by the Erasmus + program, Key Action 3: social inclusion and common values, was born. The project aims to promote social inclusion and combating social inequality among disadvantaged groups, especially migrants and refugees, through strengthening their digital competences in order to enhance their labour market opportunities and social participation. In this project, 7 partners from 6 European countries will work together for 3 years to create ICT-Training Hotspots that offer learning possibilities to increase digital competences as well as foster social inclusion, and create a sustainable basis for those ICT-Training Hotspots to continue and multiply in the future.

For the project, in the period between March and May 2019, two staff members of the Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci interviewed 14 ICT professionals, researchers and teachers working in IT-firms, fablabs, schools and universities with different levels of responsibility. Organizations that made themselves available for this first round of interviews offer very different kind of services, including software development, data analysis, automation and electronics engineering, design for urban and social innovation, game development, process management, recruiting, applied research and education. Size-wise, many different setups were considered, ranging from a consulting firm with almost 800 employees to an indie group of 3 individuals. Conversations took the form of in-person interviews and online questionnaires in Palermo, Eastern Sicily and Northern Italy. As a result, updated information was collected on current and future technologies, professional profiles and related technical skills relevant to the ICT sector, with the aim to identify the entry point to the digital labour market for migrants, refugees and other disadvantaged groups, and structure effective learning offers to meet their education needs, accordingly. Although the variety of ICT sectors considered and the diversity of questionnaires participants and interviewees involved prevent from drawing any definitive conclusions as a result of this qualitative research, responses collected have shown convergence on some important points and, therefore, undeniably provided interesting insights that will be explored in the report.

To download the report click here.

E-DESIGN: EUROPEAN DIGITAL EDUCATION FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION AND GLOBAL NEIGHBOURHOOD is a three-year project co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme, Key Action 3 – Social Inclusion and Common Value. The purpose of the project is to contribute to promoting social inclusion and combating social inequalities among disadvantaged groups, especially migrants and refugees, through strengthening their digital competences in order to enhance their labour market opportunities and social participation according to the objectives of the European Pillar of Social Rights and ET 2020.



[1] European Parliament, June 2018. Motion on education in the digital era: challenges, opportunities and lessons for EU policy design

[2] 43% of the European population does not possess basic digital skills according to Digital Economy and Society Index Report 2019 (, based on Eurostat 2017.

[3] Euractiv. INFOGRAPHIC: Digital skills in Europe