Reading today about a Digital Summit in Dublin reminds me that across Europe the onset of this digital age requires all European governments to be proactive in preparing their workforce for the onset of artificial intelligence , automation and various other technologies which are profoundly transforming our places of work .
As President of the European Federation of Education Employers ( EFEE) I am acutely aware of the pace of technological change across European Union member states and the European Commission’s work to address new challenges brought about by the digital revolution.
Education systems are being immensely challenged to meet the new demands of a rapidly changing world. The European Commission estimates that up to 60% of those entering primary school will be engaged in jobs not yet conceived. And what of those already in the workforce ? It is estimated by the EC that 37% of the current European workforce has insufficient digital skills and many could face the risk of losing their jobs through skills redundancy ..
In regard to the population as a whole 44% have insufficient digital skills while 19% have no such skills. This is certainly worrying in the context of a world where robotics and automation are changing the world , where many skills are becoming obsolete, where robots are replacing humans and where the rapid penetration of technology is increasing demands for digital and related skills.. This can mean that in booming economies there will be increasing redundancies as jobs are being replaced by technologically advances.
How are education systems coping with this tsunami of change ? Again the European Commission estimates that only 20% to 25% of students are being taught by digitally competent teachers. For all generations therefore our lives must be defined by lifelong learning re-skilling and up-skilling and many of us will face these challenges with confidence. Automation and robotics is rapidly changing the world of work and impacting on our education and training systems..
There are also serious societal risks arising in this digital age if the marginalised become more marginalised and unable or unwilling to learn the skills to survive and thrive . So investment must be targeted at those most at risk of being left behind. The new illiterate can be those who are educated but digitally impoverished through lack of digital competence. We need an economy that works for all. There is no choice now but to seriously invest in our education and training systems.
Digital technology will challenge the way education is delivered . Schools of the future will be learning organisations and teachers will be learning enablers. Investment in curricula and infrastructure is a big priority as digital technology challenges the way education is delivered.
Really this is all about building functioning communities requiring a transformative approach to education and training as digital technology leaves with no other option.