A Different Approach

The term “non-formal education” and its recognition on a global scale came about in the 1960s when consolidated educational institutions had to face an economic crisis and received questions about their lacking ability to adapt to a new society. Since then it has been a driving force in education, not least in the digital age where students have literally “learnt how to learn” and have taught themselves to become digitally literate. We believe that the project can contribute greatly to upskilling teachers as facilitators.
These methods, together with our approach to embedding transferable employability skills (as redefined key competences; EC, Jan 2018) within the informal learning content, will deliver an innovative practice to benefit students in this digital era, and provide a project legacy of open educational resources in Python and Java for teachers.

The Need & Demand

The dynamic of the labour market, especially in the tech, finance and medical industry has changed greatly over the last few years, and many jobs that are currently in demand didn’t even exist 10 years ago. The EC’s “White Paper on the Future of Europe” states that “children enter society today will end up working in job types that do not yet exist”. A lot of these jobs will require the demanding skill of being able to create code and edit software.

Policymakers and employers are putting more and more pressure on teachers and schools and are challenging them to adapt to the digital age and help their learners build transferable skills in order to respond to labour market demand. In order to respond to such a daunting future scenario, as schools working with students, we need to do more to equip students with the appropriate skills for entering the labour market. We must also address “the need for an inclusive, lifelong-learning based and innovation-driven approach to education and training” (EC, 14 Dec 2017), and provide students with the appropriate recognition for such skills whether gained non-formally or formally.

The problem identified is the lack of skills, competencies, and knowledge in the area of computer science and coding for teachers and that the normal channel of ‘teacher training’ and CPD in most countries has failed to materialise. In its place, teachers from both primary and secondary schools are now looking for alternative provisions to fill the gap. The organisations represented in the project all have experience in promoting computer science, coding and other subjects amongst teachers to close the growing digital gap between school learning and the labour market. This project will be the most important, first step in training our teachers in primary and secondary schools with two of the fastest-growing coding languages Python and Java.