MOOCs: Helping to Create a Highly-Skilled Workforce

MOOCs: Helping to Create a Highly-Skilled Workforce

Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 9:05am


By Alberto Zilio, Director of Public Affairs – Europe for AT&T

Last month, the European Commission announced it is launching a network of providers of Massive Open Online Courses – or MOOCs – related to web and apps skills to foster more ICT talent. The network aims to map the demand for web-related skills across Europe and to promote the use of MOOCs.

Estimates show that Europe faces up to 900,000 unfilled ICT jobs and the number of digital jobs are growing by 3% each year. MOOCs offer a unique way to develop more highly skilled technical talent. This approach is another step toward revolutionizing higher education, and high-speed connectivity and the cloud are making it possible.

The Commission’s new network is part of the Startup Europe initiative, a plan aimed at strengthening the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs in Europe and contributing to innovation, growth and jobs.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes noted:

  • "By 2020, 90% of jobs will need digital skills. That is just around the corner, and we aren’t ready! Already businesses in Europe are facing a shortage of skilled ICT workers. We have to fill that gap, and this network we are launching will help us identify where the gaps are. This goes hand in hand with the work being done through the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs".

As history has shown, technological change transforms the skills and education needed for success. It also eliminates some old jobs and spawns new ones – as we’ve seen with the app economy. Our world is becoming even more connected. To continue to drive innovation, we need to address the shortage of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees and expand access to computer science education for all students.

Last year, AT&T announced it was teaming up with Georgia Tech and Udacity Inc. to create the first-ever Tech Online Master of Science in Computer Science degree that can be completed entirely through a MOOC platform. During a three-week period last Fall, 2,360 people applied for the program from 81 countries around the world. This was approximately 75 percent more applications than are received for the on-campus program during an entire year.

Classes began in January and 401 students were offered admission during the Spring 2014 semester (additional applicants will be admitted for subsequent terms). The average age of these students is 34.8, about 11 years older than their on-campus counterparts. And, more than 80 of the initial students are employees of AT&T.

The MOOC model increases access to education making it more inclusive for everyone. And, it will help provide us all with a highly skilled workforce to deliver the digital economy that is so important to economic growth, today and in the future.

View the original post on the AT&T Global Public Policy Blog.


CATEGORY: Education