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In Europe Digital Skills Matter: An Interview with Telecentre Europe Managing Director, Gabriel Rissola

Young people and children may know how to operate devices but are not necessarily prepared to think digitally. The idea that the new generations are all “digital natives” is a fallacy. Interestingly, the school is now considered as THE place that should undertake the mission to prepare them for the challenges of the digital-by-default society in which they will live. But schools are not ready yet. For example, when one of my daughters recently started secondary school she was immersed in a new pedagogic model that is based on the use of a handheld device instead of books. The model came from a partnership with the industry and counted with the support of the school principal. Although I welcomed the initiative, I soon noticed a mix of new and old ways of teaching that weakened its effectiveness. The intention was great but it was not accompanied by an adequate preparation of teachers to act as learning facilitators. This is one of the major challenges for schools, in my view.

When we think of young people today we also deal with another contradiction. Many of them are unemployed; with some regions in Europe where as far as one out of two youths are unemployed. But at the same time, digital skills are increasingly demanded by the labour market (there will be about 825,000 ICT vacancies in EU by 2020). We tend to think that young people automatically have these skills. But they don’t. Therefore, digital literacy is becoming as important as traditional literacy and numeracy. Digital literacy is not only about the ability to use office or social media tools. It also implies understanding the logic behind it- what some call “computational thinking”- and this can be acquired, for example, by coding.

Another problem, as pointed out by many experts, is the lack of students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and this will only make the skills gap deeper. STEM studies are apparently not fashionable. So we need to make them more appealing, for example, by adding topics such as Arts or Creativity to stimulate interest and innovation in these fields. We can also work on better aligning university career plans to the labour market demands and expectations.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: news.microsoft.com

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