According to Europe 2020 targets 23% of EU’s population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion as a result of a complex process that involves lack of basic competencies, including digital skills, and poor access to basic services such as lifelong learning. This includes individuals who drop out of school early, may have limited access to educational opportunities as a result of socio-economic challenges, or are unemployed and not being properly retrained to reenter work. At the same time more than 100m individuals in Europe are at risk of digital exclusion.
Based on the above, young learners with inadequate digital skills may be at increased risk of becoming professionally marginalized in the future due to competencies misaligned to market needs, foregoing opportunities to become socially included and civically active. Low skilled individuals, who may in the present be attracted by jobs with limited entry level requirements, may face increased professional challenges in the future as the demand for highly skilled workers rises.
The above point to the urgent need for interventions in education and training practices towards strengthening the digital skill profiles of individuals at risk of exclusion with an emphasis on the next generation.
EMPLOY aims at developing advanced digital literacy in line with industry needs for learners in primary and lower secondary education with a focus on individuals at risk of exclusion, including learners at risk of ESL, migrants, or individuals facing socio-economic adversity. By building digital skills forecast to be in demand in the coming years the project promotes employability, fosters social equity and inclusion, and facilitates economic growth based on human capital, i.e. effectively trained future professionals.
EMPLOY deploys and evaluates active, game-based learning for exposing learners to work-inspired activities that require digital competencies, problem-solving capacity, and analytical thinking. The advantages of the proposed learning approach include increased knowledge retention through serious gaming (FAS), capacity to transfer knowledge to the real-world, learning linked to educational objectives through effective feedback, and a supportive, inclusive learning environment based peer collaboration and entrepreneurial thinking.
EMPLOY will develop and evaluate an active learning framework with the objective of building early on digital skills in demand in the ICT sector and ICT using sectors. The proposed active learning methodology will be validated in practice through the implementation of a proof-of-concept serious game with content linked to both school curricula and professional requirements. Instructional support will empower teachers to integrate the proposed methodologies and tools into their already well developed educational practices. Outcomes will be evaluated through deployment in real-life contexts in Turkey, Greece, France, Estonia, and Italy. Findings will be made publicly available to the European primary and secondary education community and life long learning sector.
EMPLOY makes strategic use of ICT in education deploying it as a facilitator for linking learning practices to work needs. It evaluates learning benefits of serious games in specific contexts. It contributes to innovation-driven sustainable growth by promoting digital literacy that is necessary for sustaining business development of SMEs and larger companies. It broadens work options for young learners by raising awareness on professional profiles that will be in demand in the coming years and by building the skills that are necessary for entering the knowledge economy. It empowers local communities to fight unemployment and to retain talent, contributing to social cohesion and active citizenship. It promotes positive attitudes towards education through the publication of good practice paradigms on the integration of ICT into learning processes. It supports broader availability of ICT tools for educational purposes. And it enriches teacher skills sets for promoting the adoption of outcomes.