On the 7th of March, EfVET organized the DC4WORK Project Multiplier Event at the Delegation of the Basque Country to the EU. The project aims to increase the digital competences of employees in order to overcome the challenges of a rapidly transforming world of work by providing guidelines and tools to in-company experts – digital competences promoters – to support up-skilling of the staff.

Opening the event, Valentina Chanina (EfVET) provided a short introduction about the DC4WORK Project focused on Work-related Digital Competences. Stela Stancheva (EfVET) offered some interesting insights on the project and its outputs: White Paper, Guidelines for the training of the digital competences promoter and an Online Toolbox. She focused her intervention on the dynamics we are immersed in nowadays. With the Industry 3.0 (Digital) ongoing at the same time as Industry 4.0 (Communication & Connectivity) which is evolving quickly towards a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, genetic engineering and other technologies, many believe that 2019 will be the year of transformation into Industry 5.0. The job market is changing at an extremely fast pace triggered by new technologies and the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence making it a complex environment.

During the presentation, participants had the opportunity to share their views about the future of digital competences through an interactive activity using the tool Mentimeter. Information, communication, smart technologies and payments were among the most repeated answers when visualising the future of digital competences. Furthermore, importance has been given to accessibility and inclusion. See below questions and voting results.

In addition, Marijo Irastorza (CDEA) and Marny Thompson (Age UK) reminded of the importance of building alliances with different actors such as companies and NGOs in order to improve accessible tourism training for all involved in the Industry 4.0. Working together is a key factor for moving forward.

The panel debate focused on “Accessible tourism: an opportunity for economic growth. Learning in the digital age” and it was moderated by Peter Hodgson (EfVET).

Opening the panel, Girma Anuskeviciute (European Commission, DG-GROW) presented the European Commission’s activities and support measures in the area of accessible tourism. Accessible tourism generates 400 billion euros in revenue, supporting 9 million jobs and still, only 9% of EU Member States’ touristic services are fully accessible. The European Commission works on diversity and is committed to the improvement of tourism products and accessible tourism for seniors and low-season tourism. She also mentioned the COSME programme which aims at boosting the capacity of tourism SMEs through transnational cooperation and knowledge transfer. It supports transnational cooperation to foster innovative solutions for sustainable tourism development and management at the level of tourism enterprises and destinations (training, coaching, capacity building, etc.).

Inmaculada Placencia Porrero (European Commission, DG-EMPL) provided an overview of the work focused on Accessibility and the content of the new legislation. Accessibility should be considered an instrument to ensure equal access for all citizens and accessibility related standardisation work at EU level.

Last but not least, Julien Vanlaeys (Citadines, The Ascott Limited Europe) offered a business perspective. As a business, they believe in the importance of making efforts and investing in improving the different procedures in terms of the SMEs in the tourism and retail. In order to stay alive, we need to use digital technologies and provide both for the clients and for the employees. Furthermore, staff need to be properly trained in order to confront reality and identify what kind of responses are needed in a sector as rapidly growing as tourism. In his concluding remarks, Peter Hodgson emphasised the necessity of raising awareness on accessibility and inclusiveness and the importance of reskilling and upskilling employees.

The event concluded with a Q&A session moderated by Valentina Chanina. Some of the topics discussed were related to the promotion of digital skills training programmes across Europe to ensure the long term sustainability supporting both skills and business development, where are the skill gaps and mismatches between current VET programmes and the needs of business across the sector and what we should target first if we want to prioritise improvement in such a diversity of needs. It is crucial that digital competences promoters learn about the various leadership styles in order to empower the company and the staff by encouraging digital competences and competitiveness.  In the time of knowledge-based economy and continuous digital transformation only learning organisations will be competitive.  The contributions on the event were very fruitful and the DC4WORK project spurred interest between the participants.