When: Thursday, Nov 8, 2018, (All day)

IT Tower, Av Louise 480, Room Louise I&II, Brussels, Belgium

Workshop, Brussels, November 8, 2018 (Preliminary programme see below)                         

Multiple studies performed during 2017 and monitored by the Digital Enlightenment Forum show clearly that the rapid transformations taking place in the new digital ecosystem have a strong and measurable collateral effect on the job market demand and the difficulty of existing educational systems to keep up with this demand.

As Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel  pointed out at the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition conference last December digital skills creation constitutes, deservedly, a key pillar of the Digital Europe strategy:

“Europe is experiencing a shortage in ICT specialists with at least 350,000 vacancies today. Furthermore, 40% of enterprises trying to recruit ICT specialists report difficulties in getting qualified people. I believe that nowadays digital skills are as important as knowing how to read, write and do math. They are basic skills that everyone should have. This is part of a broader discussion on the "future of work", and how new technologies are changing the labor markets and lead to hard questions and uncertainties for all of us.”

In this same “future of work” context, the OECD Report “The Future of Work and Skills” recognizes three ongoing megatrends that will significantly alter the nature of work in the industrialised world: globalization, technological progress and demographic change. These three trends cannot be seen separate from each other and will together lead to significant societal and cultural changes. In particular, these trends will strongly affect the quantity and quality of available jobs and how and by whom they will carried out. We can observe in industry an already all-permeating use of Big Data and automation driven by Data Analytics resulting in an accelerating development of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. The enormous potential of this for the EC in a true digital single market is documented in COM(2016)180).

At the same time, in this so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital technologies are leading to the emergence of disruptive business models, challenging traditional hierarchies and creating new commercial value systems. An extensive Pew study presents the effects of automation on employment and the corresponding worries of citizens . It shows much uncertainty about the job market particularly among lower educated workers, but increasingly at higher education levels as well. The latter is strongly supported by the study of McKinsey: “Technology, Jobs and the Future of Work” and a recent paper on AI and jobs by Microsoft: “The Future Computed” which estimates that by 2020, 30% of all technology jobs will remain vacant due to a shortage of people with the required skills. Similarly, signals the growing shortage of talent in Data Analysis in particular.

Large numbers of existing jobs are being lost either in their entirety or partly. To quote MIT’s president Reif:

“CEOs across many sectors face a painful quandary: They have to lay off people whose jobs have disappeared, while they have job openings they can’t fill because they can’t find people with the right training and skills. This mismatch is bad for everyone: Lives are derailed, families and communities damaged, business opportunities lost.”

In the light of these developments, the EC launched in June 2016 its New Skills Agenda for Europe, in which it formulated 10 Actions to improve the quality and relevance of training, and the information and understanding of trends and patterns. This includes the establishment of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition.

The problem and the challenge, as “old jobs” disappear and “new jobs” are created, is that the new jobs require new skills and new combination of skills as well as new ways of collaboration between humans and machines. Someone performing an existing job will not necessarily be replaced by a machine but will most likely be replaced by someone who can collaborate effectively with a machine unless he/she have the benefit of timely and effective upskilling/reskilling. These novel combinations of skills include, so-called “soft skills” like communication skills, problem solving in a technology-rich environment but also emotional intelligence and empathy especially in the fast-growing sector of care services.

In the context of this overall “digital disruption” a drastic re-think of both formal and informal education systems and dedicated skill acquisition programs is taking place at all levels in Europe, the US and elsewhere in educational institutions, companies and organizations set up specifically to facilitate sustainably continuous reskilling and upskilling

Earlier Digital Enlightenment debates have recommended an approach be developed to  combine flexible and hybrid learning mini- courses, self-regulated learning, mentoring and coaching, all aimed at clearly measurable acquisition of skills that are readily recognizable by potential employers. A palette of new-generation e-learning tools, existing or to be developed, will need to be effectively integrated into such approach.

An analysis of  pertinent EU initiatives including the Upskilling Pathways Initiative,the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, the Digital Opportunity Traineeship Programme and EU Code Week as well as specific private or national initiatives launched to address the digital skills shortage such as Ecole 42 in France , Ecole 19 in Belgium and others have already provided DigEnlight with most valuable guidance that led to the development of the Digital Skills Hub concept which is already being piloted in Greece.

We believe that it is now timely to take up the challenge and bring together knowledgeable people who can collectively and via the trademark DigEnlight interaction shed as much light as possible on how fast and vast this education vs employment disruption is and provide insights as well as concrete recommendations for next steps within the overall digital Europe strategy

To this end Digital Enlightenment Forum will contribute by organising a one-day workshop on November 8, 2018 in Brussels under the title: “Education and Skills for the New Era”.

We expect participants to be actively engaged in addressing the challenge of education and skills provision for the new employment ecosystem. They will come from policy, educational institutions and industry and be ready and open for multi-disciplinary debate. Existing and/or under development e-learning and “up-training” tools will be showcased.

The workshop aims at producing recommendations for pertinent EU policy, including for the new 2021-2028 Framework Programme. It also strives to enable participants to interact and take new ideas back with them to work out in their own environments or in future partnerships and collaborations.