European Commission Wants MOOCs Providers To Help Boost Regional Web Skills

The MOOCs movement has generally lagged in Europe compared to the U.S. But regional providers are being established here in the Old World, such as Berlin-based iversity and the U.K.’s Futurelearn consortium — the latter backed by the veteran distant learning business, the Open University.

And now the European Commission is throwing the budding European Massive Open Online Courses movement a bone, by creating a network of MOOCs providers specifically focusing on web and app skills. It’s partnering with iversity to establish the network.

The E.C.’s agenda here is to up the level of digital skills in the region to ensure future jobs can be fulfilled by the local workforce.

The new MOOCs network is part of the Commission’s wider Startup Europe initiative, which is aimed at improving conditions for technology startups in the region.

The E.C.’s Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan is generally focused on three areas: education and training; creating a pro-entrepreneur environment; and developing role models and doing outreach to reach groups whose entrepreneurial potential is not being fully tapped.

Establishing a MOOCs network to promote web and app skills checks the education piece in that checklist.

The E.C. said the new network aims to map the demand for web-related skills across Europe and to promote the use of MOOCs for “capacity-building” in those fields.

“By 2020, 90% of jobs will need digital skills. That is just around the corner, and we aren’t ready,” said E.C. Vice President, Neelie Kroes, in a statement. “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.” 

The Commission wants web entrepreneurs, universities, MOOC providers and online learners to join the network — with mooted benefits for participants being networking opportunities, sharing experiences and best practices and keeping up to date on developments in the space. 

A conference dedicated to MOOCs for web and apps skills is scheduled for the second half of 2014. The network also has its own discussion group on the E.C.’s Open Education Europa portal