miércoles, 23 de noviembre de 2016

Digital skills: Targets and practices

The European Commission presented in June 2016  "A new skills agenda for Europe". The promotion of digital skills is an important part of this strategy. Among the actions proposed, we can find the revamp of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, the inclusion of digital skills in the so-called "Skills Guarantee" and   the taking into consideration of the digital skills in the "Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills". 

The revamp of Digital Skills and Job Coalition includes a demand to develop similar strategies in Member States, including sharing best practices of successful initiatives. As I have written several months before, the first practice to put in place should be the retraining of policy makers, therefore I was quite happy to know that  some countries (e.g. Norway) has already developed pilots of this kind.

Apparently, Europe is in the right path for the reduction of the skill gap. The European Commission boasts that its policies has helped to reduce the predicted shortfall of IT specialists in 2020 has been reduced from one million in 2010 to 756,000 in 2015. However, at the same time the DESI still shows that 45% of the population has insufficient digital skills. Therefore, the priority should be helping them to jump to the digital wagon.

An interesting experience regarding digital literacy efforts is Simbioza, an slovenian NGO. Simbioza is an academy based on intergenerational solidarity for lifelong learning. One of their projects aims to helps the older generation to have positive experiences with computers through the help of young volunteers.

Needed projects for spreading the digital skills aim that the children achieve the basic capabilities to access the digital resources. The classic project replicated in several country is the distribution of tablets among the pupils of basic education. Example of this kind initiative is Mobile Learning Austria, which also includes the aditional technical support and teacher for fully exploit the digital power of the tools.

The digitisation of education with projects like Mobile Learning Austria should be built up on a quality internet access. Although the provision of network access to schools are not equivalent to the digitisation of education, there is not doubt that is a needed condition. The European Commission has established for 2025 the goal of Gigabit connections in school and it also has estimated a cost of 46 € billion for providing ultra-fast internet in primary and secondary schools. It is probably an underestimated value if we take into consideration that Germany hast set up a project to connect its schools with a cost of 5 € billion and a more humble project in Spain has estimated the cost in 300 € million (and neither of them aim to have gigabit connection).

Much more things should be included in a national digital skills strategy. Besides teaching ICT in school and to the elders, it is critical re-skilling the labour force for the digital era or diseminate the digital tools among companies, particularly SMEs. We can expect that the European Commision set targets for all this areas by the end of the year as it announced in the skills agenda.

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