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Platform for ICT learning and inclusion for youth employability and entrepreneurship

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - I-LINC (Platform for ICT learning and inclusion for youth employability and entrepreneurship)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2017-12-31

Digital skills have been recognised as one of the eight key competences for lifelong learning, and basic digital literacy is needed for the majority of jobs. Yet many young people lack the required digital skillset to take full advantage of ICT in their education, to find work and/or to create their own employment.
With a high percentage of unemployed youth in Europe today, young people are at risk of social and economic exclusion due to the lack of competent and meaningful digital skills. The recognition that digital inclusion boosts youth employability and entrepreneurship and that attainment of digital skills is key to access to the labour market in a knowledge based economy has already been made by political leaders and ICT learning and inclusion for young people has been promoted in various documents such as the European Youth Strategy, The Youth Employment Initiative and Youth Opportunities Initiative, the EU Flagship initiatives for smart growth: Youth on the Move and Digital Agenda for Europe. In the last years the ICT for Learning and Inclusion research group at JRC-IPTS, has documented the collective need expressed by both ICT for learning and ICT for inclusion stakeholders to count on a sectoral stakeholder platform as a space for collaboration, knowledge sharing and development of new partnerships.
The nature of the challenges and the topics at hand (ICT for education and for inclusion) call for a collaborative approach between a wide variety of stakeholders: civil society organisations, education providers, governments, international and EU institutions, private companies and end beneficiaries. No single actor can address these challenges. The complexity therefore calls for a collaborative platform where education and inclusion issues can be discussed together, hand in hand.
I-LINC’s main objective is to establish a sustainable, overarching platform for ICT (for) learning and inclusion focused on boosting the employability of young people. Beyond the technical meaning of “platform” (in the sense of an online environment for networking, participation and learning), it primarily refers here to the ambition of consolidating a committed and active community of stakeholders working in ICT (for) learning and inclusion to boost young people’s employability.
In the context of ICT (for) learning and inclusion, the consortium focuses on ICT learning and eInclusion of young people as one of the main drivers for increasing their employability and entrepreneurship. The platform aims to achieve this in a two-folded manner:
• on one hand, it includes those learning and inclusion actors, institutions and organisations oriented towards young people;
• on the other, it sensitizes and encourages those stakeholders with a broader scope about the needs and possibilities of youth in the digital society/economy.
The I-LINC project formally started in January 2015, and the work performed during the first year of the project was focused on context research, building the platform (both online and offline) and prepare activities to engage stakeholders in the platform.
1. Mapping and understanding stakeholders and their expectations
The mapping of stakeholders in the field of I-LINC was performed in two stages: a partner survey and desk research (Mapping1) in February/March 2015 with 126 actors, complemented by a European Online Survey of I-LINC stakeholders (Mapping 2) in autumn 2015 with almost 100 stakeholders.
2. Building the online portal of the platform has been built based on the initial structure within the project proposal and has been enhanced with a series of recommendations from stakeholders and external experts. The online portal is the go-to for anyone with a professional role and interest in the topic of youth employability and how it can be enhanced through formal, non-formal or informal ICT education.
The I-LINC portal is organised around three main themes, with an overall focus on Digital inclusion and skills that is influencing the other two: Youth employment and Entrepreneurship. It offers access to a number of resources grouped under the following types: articles, opinions, a policy hub, a stakeholders’ repository, best practices and events.
The portal also provides access to interactive content like the Wikinclusion, rights for users to upload content or open/facilitate discussions. A section on learning resources is also going to be featured.
3. Develop tools and activities for stakeholder engagement
During the first year of the project, the I-LINC consortium planned and developed a series of tools that enable stakeholder engagement on the platform and that are mentioned below. The development of these tools and of the overall platform followed a Design Thinking approach aiming to empower the desired users of our platform to actually co-design the platform and other central procedures at an early stage.
• Two wikinclusion sessions have been organised in December 2015, involving about 15 stakeholders: 1. Framing digital skills and 2. Measuring and assessing digital skills.
• The 1st I-LINC workshop was organised in Belgrade, Serbia on 24 September 2015, during the Telecentre Europe Annual Conference. With an audience formed by 140 participants, the I-LINC portal has been officially launched.
• The 2nd I-LINC workshop was organised in Brussels, on 6 November 2015, during the Scientix event, with the title: Digital skills inside and outside of the classroom. The event managed to put into practice a model of engaging different stakeholders with the aim of achieving greater collaboration and synergies.
The I-LINC consortium is formed by organisations that are well positioned to address the challenges mentioned above and to achieve the proposed objectives. Coordinated by Telecentre Europe, the project consortium brings together another 3 partners: European Schoolnet, The Technical University of Dortmund and Telefonica. The diverse profiles of the project partners enable access to a broad spectrum of stakeholders: civil society organisations, formal and non-formal educational institutions, ICT industry, policy-makers, researchers, individual experts and practitioners.
In the I-LINC platform & stakeholder engagement, there will be four transversal topics that will structure participatory process with stakeholders and youngsters. The outcomes will in turn be thematically systematized and combined with desk research to produce most of I-LINC expected results to be further exploited. Therefore, the expected results are grouped according to these transversal topics that will guide the development of a common understanding and proposition:
1. Standardization frameworks including the Digital Competence framework for end users, the e-Competence Framework for ICT practitioners, EQF/ECVET
2. Collection of best practices, planning joint activities for exchange, replication and scale-up
3. Strategic planning, networking and coordination between platforms in different countries
4. Common solutions and policy recommendations to tackle youth employability through ICT learning and inclusion
The project is set to create the most relevant platform for digital inclusion and skills as a cooperation framework for disadvantaged social groups and local communities, with the aim of improving the quality of life of people at risk of exclusion due to the lack access to educational opportunities.