EU Science Hub

Learning and Skills for the Digital Era

Learning and skills are key contributors to society and the economy. As modern societies and economies are changing due to, amongst others, globalisation and technological progress, a fundamental transformation of education and training (E&T) throughout Europe is required to deliver the knowledge and skills needed for growth, employment and participation in society.

This forms an important part of the Europe 2020 agenda and its various flagships and policy initiatives.

JRC research in this area started in 2005 and is focused on how to make better use of ICT for rethinking learning, for innovating education and training and for addressing new skills requirements (e.g. digital competence) to generate growth, employment and social inclusion. More than 20 major studies have been undertaken and more than 100 different publications released.

JRC research in 2016-2017 is structured around three main strands:

  • 21st century Skills and Competences
  • Innovating and modernising Education and Training
  • Open Education

JRC's Learning and Skills projects cover a wide range of studies: On citizens and learners (micro), on teachers and educators (professionals), and on educational organisations (meso) and societies (macro). As indicated in the image below, projects are developed in collaboration with sister Commission services (Education and Culture, Employment, Justice).

21st century Skills and Competences

Creativity, entrepreneurship, learning-to-learn, digital competence and other 21st century skills and competences are emerging as more and more important for innovation, growth and participation in a digital society and economy. The key challenge for research and policy is to make sure that supply and demand for new skills and competences are matched: How can or should these new skills and competences be defined, described, thought, acquired and recognised?

Current JRC research covers the following projects: Digital Competence for citizens (DigComp), Digital Competence for Consumers (DigCompConsumers), Entrepreneurship Competence (EntreComp) and an exploration of Computational Thinking that might become as fundamental as numeracy and literacy (CompuThink). We also have a number of studies on the labour market implications of the digital transformation.

Past studies looked at Creativity and Innovation (ICEAC) and the use of ICT for the Assessment of Key Competences (COMPASS).

Innovating and modernising Education and Training

Innovating and modernising education and training are key priorities in several flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy, in particular Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, Youth on the Move, the Digital Agenda and the Innovation Union.

The key challenge for research and policy is to make sure that the full potential of digital technologies is used for learning and that effective digital-age learning is made possible through systemic and holistic change. Progress to move towards full integration of digital technologies in E&T is still needed in many European countries.

Current JRC research is focussed on digitally competent organisations (DigCompOrg), on educators' digital competence (DigCompEdu), on policy reforms towards integration of digital technologies in Education (DigEduPol) and on exploring Learning Analytics.

See for past studies on Innovating Learning and Teaching: NMSeL; LEARNCOM; Learning & Ageing Society; Learning 2.0; 1:1 Learning; TeLLNet; SCALE CCR

See also for studies on the Future of Learning: eLFut; FutLearn; MATEL; Horizon Report Europe

Open education

Open education has the potential to make educational systems more innovative and efficient. In addition, Open Education allows individuals to engage in new and more flexible ways of (lifelong) learning. 

These two components made of the integration of Open Education into EU education systems a policy objective, as argued in the September 2013 Opening Up Education Communication and the renewed priorities of ET2020 to provide "open and innovative education and training, including by fully embracing the digital era" (November 2015).

Current JRC research is focussed on two complementary approaches: the supply side of OE (Higher Education Institutions) and the demand side (MOOC learners): open education policies, MOOCKnowledge, MOOCs4Inclusion.

See for the OpenEdu framework for Higher Education Institutions and recent studies on open education:  OpenCases, OpenCred, OpenSurvey. Earlier work relates to OER (OEREU) and Science 2.0.