As Europe struggles to bring down stubbornly high unemployment, it also faces an ever-widening skills gap. How to tackle that? Well, the European Parliament wants the EU to expand the use of online education, to take the classroom to the student, and boost those skills they desperately need.
At a hearing of the Culture and Education Committee, members of parliament and experts exchanged views on how to close the skills gap through web-based teaching, also called Open Educational Resources. They also discussed a committee report on proposed legislation. Doris Pack, a teacher by training, chairs the committee and is a member of the EPP Group.
I think we lost a lot of time and we are running behind the digital agenda, we have not filled all the gaps which are still, in all kinds of education.
I think we should find out solutions for this gap which has to be filled.
The proposed legislation, which builds on a European Commission proposal, says that by 2020, 90% of jobs will require digital skills. Already by next year, 900,000 ICT-related jobs will go unfilled due to the skills gap. Lifelong learning, via Open Educational Resources or OER, is one important answer.
One successful online school is the Dutch-based Delft University of Technology. The coordinator of its Open Education Team spoke before the committee.
What I see is that the European universities are very traditional. And I think the EU can help them moving forward with new programs, I think like the Opening up Education program, is really showing universities that there are other ways to do it, that you don´t have to do it in a classroom, that you can do it online.
The committee's report recognizes that with a growing population of so-called digital natives, teachers also need to integrate online learning in their curriculum. What's more, Open Educational Resources can help both people on the job to learn new skills, and for women to return to the labour force after stopping out for Mommyhood.
This is important for all levels of education, this question of using IT, it´s for all levels. But especially also for people who are unemployed, or who have been on maternity leave, or who have been outside of workplaces and they want to go in. They need today all the possibilities to get into the IT possibility. So it is high time that we catch up, really, on all levels.
An Open Education Europa portal provides a single gateway to that kind of learning. The proposed legislation calls on the EU28 to use available funding to improve the digital infrastructure to facilitate online learning, including in rural areas.
The EU's Europe 2020 strategy aims to boost competitiveness and growth through a highly skilled work force. MEPs and experts here say online education needs to be a part of that effort to reach that goal. Or they say Europe could fall behind its competitors.
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Boost online education to fill growing EU skills gap, European Parliament says.
Online education needs to expand, along with greater access to broadband, for Europe to better compete in the future, said MEPs and experts at a European Parliament hearing. Doris Pack, chair of the Culture and Education Committee and Member of the EPP Group, says online education can also expand on-the-job skills and help mothers return to work.
Online education, Open Educational Resources, OER, skills gap, European Parliament, Doris Pack, EPP Group
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