The current moment of uncertainty has forced us to change. The act of learning has changed.
Today it is easy to understand how the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic have led us to incorporate new paradigms in various spheres of our personal and professional lives. Thanks to new technologies, many activities that required our physical presence now only require a device with an internet connection, camera and microphone. On the other hand, the change has also reached our daily routines. The pandemic has often resulted in the creation of extra time (either by less commuting or by layoff or unemployment situations).
These two constraints are the starting point for an opportunity - distance training. If, a few years ago, training sessions were done in a face-to-face context, today they can be done from the sofa or the living room table. In addition to implying a higher level of comfort, this modality also has a strategic advantage: the possibility of adapting the work to the learning pace of each one of us. For these reasons, in the current context, online training is an opportunity for personal and professional development.
In the context in which we live, the focus on adult education and training can still be seen as an instrument for professional requalification and reconversion. There are businesses that end and new businesses that emerge, many of them created in the new digital reality, so new skills will be needed.
The digital area, seen in a transversal way, holds great opportunities, whether in the investment of companies that have been opening operations in Portugal or in the digitalisation of many processes and businesses to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. This trend will also result in an increasing qualification of citizens who will enhance the use of new digital services, public and private, in a positive cycle of evolution and growth. But to respond to the current economic changes, it is essential to have more and better qualifications and the question is: how do the Portuguese position themselves towards training?
Digital literacy and learning
It is usual to think of online training as being within the reach of anyone. Learning is accessible to everyone. However, it is only available to those with internet access and digital skills. And this point remains a barrier for many citizens. In 2019, one of the most important reports on Europe's education systems urged Portugal to increase the digital skills of the adult population. "Notwithstanding the efforts under the INCoDe 2030 programme, the ICT skills gap continues to grow significantly, " signals the Education and Training Monitor 2019 , published every year by the European Commission.
The report advises Portugal to "improve the skills level of the population". In particular their digital literacy. All to make adult education more suited to the needs of the labour market. In the analysis of the Education and Training Monitor 2019 there is good and bad news for Portugal. Adult participation in lifelong learning has been growing. But it remains low. In 2018, only 10.3% of the population between 25 and 64 years invested in learning and participated in education and training. Figures close to the European Union average of 11.1%. But below the 15% target set for 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic has accentuated this need and shown that technologies are a fundamental ally and that online education and lifelong learning are an asset for those who want to increase their skills to progress in their careers, but also for those who need to prepare their return to the labour market.
How to be "always learning"?
There are several solutions available on the market for those who want to increase their skills or deepen their knowledge at a distance. E-learning is an increasingly popular modality and, as such, it has a growing number of platforms and solutions. Many of these solutions are free, such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC). These are courses that are available at the distance of a click and where it is possible to learn but manage time according to needs, reconciling it with other tasks and priorities. This management not only does not jeopardise the use of time but is also an opportunity to enhance it.
The MOOC market has seen a very significant increase, worldwide. During 2019, more than 110 million students attended Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), an increase of 10% compared to the previous year. In Portugal, since April 2019, it is possible to use the NAU Platform - Sempre a Aprender that provides access to online courses for large audiences in MOOC format.
For now, this national initiative, under INCoDe2030 and managed by the FCCN Unit of the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), which aims to develop education, offers 24 training courses, focusing on areas as diverse as Cybersecurity, Health, Education or Multimedia . You can find out more about this platform and the opportunity it could represent for your qualification by visiting https://www.nau.edu.pt/.