2015 was another busy year for digital skills. Now that the year is drawing to a close, we thought we’d take a moment to look back at some of the highlights of 2015.
We kicked off the year by releasing our position paper on the fallacy of the ‘digital native’, which gained widespread attention around Europe. We argued that, too often, young people are seen has having innate digital skills, leading to the risk that investment in their computer skills education could be neglected.
February saw the start of the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which put a focus on efforts to advance the digitalisation of Europe. It was also a significant month for IT security, as special modules on data security were launched in Germany and Ireland. These modules, endorsed by ECDL Foundation, aimed to boost the understanding and awareness of employees of the issues around data security, and are customised to the specific circumstances of data security in the two countries.
ICDL continued its growth in Asia in March, with the launch of the programme in the Philippines. An agreement between DOST-ICTO, a government department, and ICDL Asia saw DOST-ICTO become an Accredited Test Centre.
The e-Skills for Jobs 2015 campaign was launched in April. Following success in previous years, the campaign ran throughout the year to raise awareness of the key importance of e-Skills for work, training and education. Activities were organised around Europe, with over 650 organisations from across the continent involved.
The summer began with the annual ECDL Foundation Forum, which took place in Warsaw. People involved in the ECDL programme, including representatives of National Operators and Accreditation Consultants, came together to discuss future activities and share experiences. During the Forum, the 2015 Best Practice Awards were given to the projects that have shown the most innovative, interesting or effective ways of operating ECDL in the categories of ECDL in the Workplace, ECDL in Society, ECDL in Education, and Marketing ECDL. ICDL Asia won the award for ICDL in the Workplace, for their work to develop the ‘Intro to ICDL Base’ module to help make the ICDL Base modules accessible to more people. ECDL Austria received the prize for ECDL in Society, thanks to their project to use ECDL to support the integration of migrants. ECDL Poland won in the ECDL in Education category with an initiative to raise the digital skills of teachers, while ECDL Switzerland received the Marketing award for an innovative online platform to enable candidates to share the results of their ECDL exams.
The EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy was expanded on in June, with a broad range of proposals and ideas for breaking down the obstacles to a single market for digital goods and services. Digital skills were included as a key element of the Strategy, with the European Commission stating that, “Digital skill levels need also to be raised among employees in all economic sectors and among job seekers to improve their employability.”
Digital skills were boosted on at least two levels in July, with the creation of new ‘National Coalitions for Digital Skills and Jobs’ in the EU, and growth of the ICDL programme in Asia. The new National Coalitions bring together influential organisations and individuals working on digital skills in Belgium, Cyprus, the Netherlands and the UK, with the goal of overcoming digital skills gaps.
Meanwhile, July was a busy month for ICDL Asia, with visits to Vietnam and the Philippines, and the launch of Bhutan’s first ICDL Accredited Test Centre. In the Pacific region, the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions adopted ICDL for all staff and in New Zealand, 2020 Trust announced that it will support 7,500 jobseekers in gaining ICDL certificates.
The skills gap in the British retail sector was in the spotlight in August. A study by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that, “In the face of rapid technological change, the retail sector is at risk of experiencing recurring misalignment of digital and ICT skills with business needs.” The study aligned with existing studies from Austria, Switzerland and Mexico, which have found shocking gaps in ICT skills knowledge.
The annual European Cyber Security Month kicked off at the end of September, with a launch conference in Brussels attended by ECDL Foundation. During the event, we announced our newly refreshed IT Security module, which was recently updated, with input from experts from around Europe, to meet the security skills needs of computer users today. Saskia Van Uffelen, the Belgian ‘Digital Champion’, welcomed the module, saying, “The online world of our children requires critical security competences to protect themselves and their lives. ECDL Foundation’s new IT Security module is a valuable tool to develop the key security skills for both children and adults”.
We began the autumn with the launch of our major new position paper on computing and digital literacy in education, in which we argued for a more holistic approach that equips all school students with the necessary digital skills and reinforces computer science in schools. The paper also explored the different approaches to teaching computing and e-skills at school. The launch event for the paper, which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels, was attended by academic and policy experts, representatives of EU bodies working on e-skills, and MEPs.
Digital skills were once again in the spotlight of the European Parliament in November, with the publication of a committee opinion that argued for EU Member States, “to urgently incorporate new technologies in the learning process, and to intensify and improve ICT and digital skills training at all levels and in all types of education and training.”
Although the year is coming to an end, we have certainly not let that slow us down! December has seen exciting developments of ICDL in Africa, with the launch of the programme in Mauritania and a major visit to Nigeria by the ICDL Africa team, and in Asia, where Vietnam officially recognised ICDL as a digital literacy standard.
2015 has certainly been a busy year for digital literacy, with far more going on that could be covered here. As we look forward to the new year, I think it is safe to say that we can expect a busy and productive 2016!