Digital Skills – Digital Education Enabling Factors
Eurocadres has been working for several years on addressing the skills gap, for which we welcome the Commission initiative. The digital transformation impacts managers and professionals heavily, and while there are some sectoral differences, the workers in the EU can strongly benefit from targeted measures proposed under the initiative. Our key recommendations for the initiative are the following:
Strengthen the link between professional and educational needs
Digitalisation and the greening of the economy are deeply changing organisations and ways of working. Raising awareness on workers’ rights and fundamental rights already during the educational part of work life for the future professionals is crucial part of this integration. Due to this, the new digital technologies need to be integrated to educational programmes to respond to the needs of the professional life. This link should be strengthened by providing collaboration and synergies between the work-life expectations from the social partners and the educational institutions. Outside providing modules on fundamental rights, the educational courses can be integrated to training programmes, which must be able to provide support for professionals and managers in order to approach their roles in managing teams, organising working process and transferring competences in the digital era. In addition, Member States, social partners and education and training providers should work together to develop national strategies to ensure that digital and STEM competences are taught at all levels, from basic to advanced, according to sectoral and industrial needs, and to all low, medium and high-skilled workers. Also, the lack of women studying and working in STEM sectors should be tackled specifically.
Further integrating fair internships to education programmes
The integration of work experience or internships into university degree programmes must be implemented in a sensible manner. It is essential to provide flexible opportunities to integrate work and studies in a balanced way. Support must be provided for those institutions of higher education that wish to grant ECTS points for voluntary work and non-profit activities as well. Education and training must always bring added value to competence. Within higher education, this means reflection and integration with theory. However, any professional action should be accompanied with fair compensation and equal treatment, following the same rights as any person on with a working contract would have.
Ensuring adequate resources for teaching and tailoring of education
The educational projects need to be properly resourced to avoid overburdening the education sector. While new and innovative approaches should be considered, these should not result in jeopardising of the responsibilities of teaching staff. Respect to the working conditions and labour protection of the teachers must be met, and additional projects or responsibilities cannot be solely added to their existing responsibilities. Teachers must be able to attend qualified trainings on digital skills during their working time, replacements should be necessary to make it possible for teachers to be up to date.
Providing a strong trade union support for the skills needs
The digitalisation challenges impact the work life in all its stages, making a strong participation of the social partners essential already in the educational stages. Skills development should be a right for everyone with tailored needs for different groups (e.g. unemployed, self employees, young, women, senior, high qualified, low qualified, etc.), while their knowledge of their rights and challenges of working in the digital era (i.e. right to disconnect, surveillance of workers, data protection) are properly addressed. Bringing adequate awareness of these conditions would strengthen the Single Market and movement of labour.