Blog #19


Authors: Marta Sturzeanu, Radu Plamanescu
Romanian Energy Center


European Commission (EC) published at the end of 2020 the Digital Education Action Plan (DEAP) for the next seven years, 2021-2027, calling for a stronger cooperation between European Member States. Based on the first framework for digital education – the 2018-2020 Action Plan, but also considering the COVID-19 crisis and the European Green Deal (EGD) objectives, the new vision presents the means in which technology is a tool for sustainable and collaborative learning and teaching. EDucation for Digitalization of Energy (EDDIE), a project funded by Erasmus+ Programme, with an important role in education of the energy sector, is continuously looking at the European directives.

The main goal of EDDIE project is to create a Sector Skills Alliance (SSA) by bringing together all the relevant stakeholders in the Energy value chain such as industry, education and training providers, European organisations, recruiters, social partners, and public authorities with the objective of developing a long-driven Blueprint for the digitalization of the European Energy sector. Thus, the matching between the current and future demand of skills necessary for the digitalization of the Energy sector will be achieved. Furthermore, it will improve the Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems.
The DEAP document has two main strategic priorities to make education and training systems fit for the digital age. The first one focus on fostering the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem, by addressing infrastructure, connectivity, and digital equipment; effective digital capacity planning and development, including up-to-date organisational capabilities; digitally competent and confident teachers and education and training staff; high-quality learning content, user-friendly tools and secure platforms which respect privacy and ethical standards. The second one aims at enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation that needs basic digital skills and competences from an early age (digital literacy, including fighting disinformation; computing education; good knowledge and understanding of data-intensive technologies, such as artificial intelligence) and advanced digital skills which produce more digital specialists and also ensure that girls and young women are equally represented in digital studies and careers.

As it can be seen in the figure on the right side, the digital skills levels are increasingly slightly over time. However, major disparities still exist between Member States: the share of people with basic or above basic digital skills ranges from 29% in Bulgaria and 31% in Romania (despite noticeable progress in both countries) to 80% in the Netherlands and 76% in Finland.

Through the most relevant actions established by the EC it can be found the following:
  • To launch a Strategic dialogue with Member States (MS) to facilitate successful digital education.
  • To make recommendations for online and distance learning in primary and secondary education.
  • To develop a European Digital Education Content Framework and check feasibility of a European exchange platform to share certified online resources and link existing platforms.
  • To launch a connectivity4Schools initiative and encourage MSs uptake of EU support for broadband, internet access and digital tools like SELFIE for Teachers.
  • To develop ethical guidelines on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data usage in teaching and learning and support-related research & innovation activities through Horizon Europe.
  • To develop common guidelines to foster digital literacy and fight disinformation.
  • To include AI and digital skills in the European Digital Competence Framework; support the development of AI learning resources for education and training providers.
  • To develop a European Digital Skills Certificate recognised by governments, employers, and other stakeholders across Europe.
  • To make recommendations on improving digital skills provision and introduce an EU target for student digital competence.
  • To promote advanced digital skills development; scale up Digital Opportunity traineeships and encourage female participation in STEM.
In the supporting actions established by the EC is included the use of Erasmus cooperation projects to support the digital transformation plans of primary, secondary, vocational education and training (VET), higher, and adult-education institutions. Support digital pedagogy and expertise in the use of digital tools for teachers, including accessible and assistive technologies and digital content, through Erasmus Teacher Academies and launch an online self-assessment tool for teachers, SELFIE for Teachers, based on the European Framework for Digital Competence of Educators to help identify strengths and gaps in their digital, technical, and teaching skills.

In Europe and beyond, mismatches exist between skills available and those needed for the digital transformation of the economy. As the figure on the left side presents, in 2019, over half of both large and small and medium enterprises in all MSs (58%) who recruited or tried to recruit ICT specialists reported difficulties in filling these vacancies.

The renewed Digital Education Action Plan builds on the lessons learnt from the 2018 Action Plan and on feedback from extensive consultations with stakeholder. It sets out a co-ordinated policy approach at EU level with actions and support measures designed to have greater impact than isolated initiatives at the level of MSs. Through its research activity EDDIE project will contributes to the Education of the Energy sector and supports the overall EU strategy to face the digital education transition which impacts every filed, including the Energy domain.