VIENNA (Reuters) - The Organisation 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 on Monday.
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.
Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Robert Birsel