The desire of many Croatian companies, institutions and state bodies is to create a digital Croatia, in which the country’s draconian and almost masochistic love of paperwork and stamps are banished to the past and recalled only as a bad memory. Despite the wishes of many, it seems that the dream of a digital Croatia will take a while to become a reality.
As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 25th of December, 2018, the increase in the number of employees of various digital professionals in Croatian companies, and the retention of qualified digital professionals in Croatia, are two key goals for the establishment of the national coalition for digital skills and jobs.
A new body, coordinated by the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP), has kicked off with its work in Croatia. Representatives of HUP-ICT Association, the Croatian Government, the Ministry of Science and Education and the Ministry of Labour signed a memorandum on the establishment of the national coalition for digital skills and jobs.
Davor Majetić, CEO of HUP, says that digitalisation is now absolutely imperative for all companies which want to be competitive on today’s market, and this is felt by the significant change that we have experienced in Croatia since 1997 in terms of jobs and employment.
“We lack digital skills and ICT professionals in all industries, and we’re continuing to persuade people that the issue of digital skills is a matter of 21st century literacy, a standard without which our children will not be ready for the labour market,” stated Majetić, adding that in solving this very issue lies an opportunity for the national coalition for digital skills and jobs.
Boris Drilo, President of HUP ICT Association and member of the Croatian Telecommunications Board, said that their ultimate desire is to move the current ICT sector’s positive momentum over into other sectors of the economy and transform the Croatian economy into a digital economy.
He says that in Croatia’s neighbouring countries, as well as in the rest of the European Union, the ratio is in favor of having a digital economy, as opposed to the traditional 3:1 contribution to the overall GDP of the country. He claims that the situation in Croatia is currently the other way around, adding that Croatia currently has about 50,000 ICT experts, and that the country needs 200,000 citizens with advanced digital skills for further market competition at an international level.
Bernard Gršić, State Secretary of the Central State Office for Digital Society Development, stressed that the work of this body is supported by the Croatian Government.
“This coalition should address the challenges of multi-level digital skills, and the work of the coalition is being supported by the Government of the Republic of Croatia and by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković,” Gršić said.
Hrvoje Balen, Vice President of the HUP-ICT Association, who is also a member of Algebra board, says that the Republic of Croatia is experiencing a significant increase in the emigration of younger and highly educated individuals, he therefore highlighted the two main goals set by the coalition: an overall increase in the number of digital professionals, and their retention here in Croatia.
This Croatian coalition will likely become a leading power in the creation of a digital Croatia and is part of the grand coalition for digital jobs initiative, which was initially launched three years ago by the European Commission with the aim of linking the economy, educational institutions, and the state together to work on the general development of digital competencies.
Is digital Croatia on a concrete path to reality? Only time will tell.