by Stefano Kluzer
The European Digital Competence Framework for all citizens (DigComp), which inspired DCDS and on which the project’s training offer is based, is used mostly in the education sector, but it is also increasingly used for different employability-related purposes. Digital skills, even of the “soft” type addressed by DigComp are important to successfully search for and get a job; they are expected from candidates when employers recruit new staff; they are part of the competence profiles needed to perform most of the new jobs created by the digital transformation and so on.
Prompted by this awareness and the evidence about usage experiences of DigComp and EntreComp (the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework) for employability illustrated in the two DigComp and EntreComp Into Action! Guides, the Joint Research Centre (JRC Seville) of the European Commission on request of DG Employment and Social Affairs launched a study in 2018 to characterize the labour market intermediaries (LMIs) actors in Europe, to analyse their role in (up-, re-) skilling functions and their current and potential use of the DigComp and EntreComp frameworks in this context. LMIs is a broad term which includes a wide range of actors who help individuals get into or progress in and into employment: from public and private employment services, to education and training organizations, from job orientation to other consultancy services and, in some respect, business companies and employers in general.
As part of the study, between November 2018 and March 2019, The Women´s Organisation Bantani Education and Stefano Kluzer carried out the research contract “Mapping DigComp and EntreComp Use, Lot 2: Cases Analysis of DigComp and EntreComp Use” (number 936054-2018 A08-GB) assigned by the JRC Seville. The research had to identify and develop about 20 case studies, equally split between DigComp and EntreComp implementations experiences for employability. The case studies (individually or collectively) should try to cover different steps of the so-called employability pathway (see Figure 1) and different EU countries (see Figure 2).
Each case study should illustrate the motivations and aims of the experience; how the Frameworks were used; the challenges faced and the benefits from the use of the Frameworks; and should provide suggestions based on the experiences on how to improve the Frameworks and their promotion for a wider use among LMIs in Europe.
The DCDS project was considered along with two other projects carried out in Emilia Romagna (Pane e Internet and 3i) in the AECA case study: one of the 9 DigComp case studies developed for this research (Figure 2 shows all the DigComp cases). DCDS was included as an example of DigComp implementation for the design of a training offer targeting adult learners with no digital skills, in view of enhancing their employability and broader social inclusion. The AECA case study explains how DigComp was used to specify over 90 learning outcomes across the framework’s 21 competences at foundation level (see the DCDS Methodology). The learning outcomes were then used to design the initial self-assessment test of the DCDS course, and to define and organise the learning materials, exercises and summative tests of the course’s 65 learning units, structured into 19 modules, within the main learning path (Base) and three complementary ones.
Among the challenges faced in this process illustrated in the case study, we can mention the difficulty of dealing with some DigComp competences (such as 3.4 Programming, 5.3 Creatively using digital technology and other Area 5 competences) that in the Framework are structurally equivalent, but in a learning experience are not. Especially when looked at from the point of view of adult learners with no or low digital skills, these competences become attainable once a certain amount of digital experience and competence has already been accumulated. They are thus difficult to “fit” into a course aimed at developing digital competence at foundation level only. The solution was to define learning outcomes for these competences as simple as possible and to set them in an “optional” learning path for those who have a specific curiosity on these aspects.
As highlighted by the colours of Figure 1, along with the design of digital training offers, as in the DCDS project, the other main purposes for DigComp use by LMIs identified by the research have been:
Some emerging DigComp implementations for employability, identified by the research, concern the delivery of career and/or further training advice, usually supported by the results of initial tests as in the Ikanos, Compass, and Pathway4Employ cases; personal development and continuous support tools and services, as in the Ikanos personal learning environment (Adecco’s PHYD project run with Microsoft goes in that direction, but until now did not use DigComp); workforce development activities, supported by the aggregation of test results across a whole organisation/company; and benchmarking services in business sectors made possible by the use of a common framework (DigComp) to measure the digital skills strengths and weaknesses of a growing number of organisations.
Contributors interviewed for the cases studies also expressed ideas and suggestions for the improvement of the Frameworks and to promote their wider adoption by LMIs in an employability perspective.
Suggestions for further research were summarised under the following headings:
Policy-oriented suggestions revolved around the following goals:
The research produced two reports: the Cross-case analysis report (93 pages) and the in-depth Case study descriptions report (270 pages), with 9 cases for DigComp and 10 for EntreComp. JRC Seville plans to publish these reports later in 2019 on the JRC DigComp web site, as an addendum to the DigComp Into Action! and EntreComp Into Action! Guides, produced by the same team of experts in 2018. The aim is to reach the wide community of practitioners and policy makers (including in the adult education domain) which are interested in the use of the Frameworks for the development of life-long learning skilling initiatives.
In order to validate the findings of the research and further clarify and elaborate the research and policy suggestions, the European Commission (JRC Seville) organised with the support Basque Country government (Ikanos project) the stakeholders´ consultation workshop "Developing digital competences for employability: How to engage and support stakeholders and the potential role of DigComp", which took place in Bilbao on June 20-21, 2019. The workshop was attended by about 50 participants: representatives of all the 9 DigComp case studies and other stakeholders, including several All Digital members. During the workshop, Sefano Kluzer illustrated the DigComp cases studies, including of course the DCDS project. The workshop's presentations, discussion and results are published on the Ikanos website.