The COVID-19 is a health hazard of global proportion and also a wake-up call to unprepared policy makers who have been faced by unprecedented circumstances.
Notwithstanding the enormous investment in research and in international organisations, humanity has been caught on the wrong foot when faced by such a deadly enemy. While health care systems have had to increase their capacity overnight, other systems including education and training had to switch to remote work with all its challenges and opportunities.
This conference will bring together practitioners’ members of EfVET and other stakeholders to share their experiences in the face of COVID-19 and the impact on educational institutions focused on Vocational Education and Training.
- Online teaching and learning: problems and advantages
- Online learning: financial burden
- Impacts and consequences of COVID-19
- Other issues: Data protection and protection and health of workers
Online teaching and learning has had its problems and its advantages. Many have experienced difficulty in making sure that the class meets at a particular time, on a given platform and with the same state-of-mind that normally takes place when people meet face-to-face. Accessing a platform, downloading material, sharing texts and interacting is not the same as when a normal classroom or lecture room is being used. What will be the impact of such a change in the mode of operation? Will technology prove to be more effective than human being parting knowledge, skills and competences or the reverse? How can teachers partner with technology and remain in command of the learning process? Will social distancing in education and training trigger a new generation of work-based learning? Which digital solutions should be adopted by VET Providers to face the challenges of new learning scenario? How online education can smoothly complement and integrate with classroom and work-based learning?
Online learning also carries a financial burden which many countries were not prepared to cover to the extents that it required. Delays in the provision of learning slots and material has been experienced in many countries. Postponement of European projects, meetings and conferences, the halt in mobility programmes will certainly have an impact on the way we view European cooperation in the future.
What will happen now that European projects, particularly those supported by the ERASMUS+ programme, will face when Europe gets back to its “new normal” mode of living? How will this change in programmes impact students, teachers and the academic year which will start in a few months’ time? How will the restrictions on the entry and exit of citizens of any origin affect internationalisation of education and training? And also, how can we have a totally new organisation with the same old financial budget and rules? Are these worlds connected or parallel?
Coupled with these challenging impacts of COVID-19 on education and training is the issue of economic recession which inevitably will bring a new wave of unemployment and the need for re-skilling and up-skilling of workers of all ages. Is this an opportunity to invest seriously in promoting Vocational Education and Training among the wider spectrum of a country’s workforce? Will businesses invest in E&T during times of recession or will they distance themselves from providing opportunities for work-based learning including apprenticeships until they recoup their momentum prior to COVID-19? Will international organisations and governments increase or decrease budgets for education and training when it is most needed in times of recession?
Data protection issues are also in agenda, with some experiences being quite intrusive in the lives of citizens and with schools and business having to deal with a whole new world of organisation and digital rules that, until now, were enough. If the data is the new fuel, many questions and restrictions will pose severely from now on.