From education to employment

Digital Literacy Curriculum Drive Forward European Skills Agenda

Microsoft is one of those trademark company names that seems to perfectly symbolise the all ““ pervasive nature of international business and technology, making the vast majority of our machines work smoothly.

However, there are those communities and individuals who are less fortunate in the provision of infrastructure than others. And the software giant has taken steps to meet that challenge and to tackle the perceived skills shortage in Europe through a combination of expanding the number and quality of academies, and through the initiation of their digital literacy curriculum. These are intended to support the work of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability.

Digital Literacy

This new digital literacy curriculum will supplement the existing Microsoft Unlimited Potential curriculum that is currently in use in community centres across Europe. The digital literacy curriculum will be freely available to governments, academia and other nongovernmental organizations, and will be accessible online. The curriculum includes e-learning and online personal assessments of five modules. It also provides a foundation-level training program to stimulate interest in higher-level professional qualifications.

There is also to be development of the network of Microsoft IT Academies, with an increase from 1,900 to more than 8,000 by 2010. This has the intention of providing broad local access to technology skills training for more than 6 million adults. More than 2 million citizens will be in a position to use the IT Academies to secure certifications that are recognized by employers throughout Europe.

Inclusion is one of the key tasks of Further Education both within and across national borders. To encourage greater inclusion and to fight exclusion from a lack of technology skills, Microsoft intend to bring the benefits of the field to some 250 million people by 2010 through a range of innovative technologies and partnerships. The ultimate aim of the programmes, Partners in Learning and Unlimited Potential, is to aid using technology to help improve education and learning, create opportunity, and raise living standards for people around the world.

EU and Business Join to Fight IT Skills Shortage

Speaking at the announcement this week, Günter Verheugen, vice president of the European Commission in charge of Enterprise and Industry, said: “Raising employment is the most effective way to generate growth and promote social inclusion. The challenges posed by an aging population make the modernization of social protection systems and the promotion of a life-cycle approach to work all the more important.

“To enhance access to employment for people of all ages and to raise productivity, the EU needs higher and more-effective investment in human capital and lifelong learning,” he continued. “Highly skilled people are the strongest currency of the 21st century. Partnership between businesses and stakeholders for the common goal of raising employability skills is key to success. I welcome the creation of the European Alliance on Skills for Employability as a vehicle to drive employability, competitiveness and growth for the people of Europe.”

President of Microsoft International, Jean Philippe Courtois, said: “The European Alliance on Skills for Employability will be crucial in enabling European citizens to gain access to training to develop 21st-century skills. We are proud to be working with such a leading group of industry partners to achieve this goal. The expansion of the IT Academies program and today’s launch of the digital literacy curriculum demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to helping individuals acquire foundational ICT skills that will enable them to effectively participate in the 21st-century knowledge economy.”

Jethro Marsh

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