By 2025, 80 per cent of schoolteachers should feel ready to use digital technologies – at the moment only 40 per cent do.
By 2025, 6 per cent of working women should be ICT specialists – currently only 1.4 per cent of women in the EU are employed as ICT specialists.
The use of digital tools and online video platforms in education have enabled pupils and teachers to stay connected around the world during the COVID-19 lockdown. For the foreseeable future, we are likely to see hybrid teaching methods, mixing in-person and remote learning.
However, the COVID-19 crisis is also exposing gaps and areas where improvements are still needed. In schools that were ill-equipped for lockdowns, children have gone many months without proper education.
Online teaching is now essential to our education systems, and knowledge of coding, cybersecurity and privacy are vital skills for our children and their future careers. We recommend a major investment in the digital upskilling of teachers with online teaching methods and to ensure that they can deliver digital skills training. We should also modernise school curricula to include digital upskilling, the basics of programming and teacher training and guidance. This is crucial to ensure that educational systems meet the needs of society and labour markets, and address digital skills shortages as well as lack of technology uptake.
Retraining school teachers is particularly important, when less than 40 per cent of them feel ready to use digital technologies. We must empower them not only to carry on their work during lockdowns, but also to inspire their students in integrating technology in their everyday life and become innovators themselves.
In addition, we should invest in secure technologies to accelerate digital uptake, as well as in modern equipment and high-quality connectivity. Indeed, connecting our schools to high-quality secure broadband and creating the right digital infrastructure will allow teachers to use expanded educational materials, access e-learning, and collaborate from different locations.
These opportunities will also benefit people living in remote rural areas, allowing them to access the best teaching available regardless of their location. It would also allow for the sharing of competences and skills across the EU. Teaching is no longer limited by borders and this could open up a new world of collaboration between educators in different member states.
To this end, collaboration is vital. The private sector, national and local authorities, training and education providers, and NGOs must work together to develop ad-hoc distance learning modules and toolkits for teachers. The digital industry is already helping design forward-looking courses and trainings, as detailed in the case studies in Part II.