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Europe is facing its greatest threat since World War II. The COVID19 outbreak is triggering unprecedented social & economic consequences. It has brought into question established practices & highlighted the importance of developing digital skills & tools in order to find innovative solutions to meet the new challenges in continuing to offer transnational work-based learning (TWBL) opportunities in the VET sector. 

Work-based learning is one of the main areas in European VET policies. Targets & priorities are underlined within core strategies & initiatives, such as the Europe 2020 Growth Strategy, the ET 2020 Strategic Framework & the Agenda for New Skills & jobs. 

The report ‘Digital gap during COVID-19 for VET learners at risk in Europe’ (CEDEFOP, June 2020) highlighted the digital skills gap for VET learners & the unique challenges caused by the pandemic. It also underlined the key importance of ensuring continued cooperation ‘at school-company level’ in order to ensure training continuity.  

Therefore, there is a gap between the requirements of trainees & employers, creating a vicious circle. Trainees need work-based learning opportunities to get a job & companies need future employees with both qualifications & work-experience. There is a clear & identifiable need to help trainees find opportunities abroad & persuade employers to provide the opportunities that trainees require as the transnational element brings added-value to an application. 

TWBL traditionally involves a trainee working physically in a company in another country. COVID19 has reduced mobility & led to travel restrictions, thereby creating a need for innovative solutions to continue to provide appropriate opportunities for trainees if physical mobility is not possible. For this to happen, VET tutors & trainees require improved digital competences & greater awareness of available digital tools to contribute effectively to a host company if working remotely. Companies need to be made aware of the possibilities for blended & remote & TWBL & the benefits to the company of hosting a trainee from another country. 

The primary objective of our project is to address these challenges to develop Key Digital Skills for Staff & Trainees for Innovative Transnational Traineeships & Work-based Learning by bringing together partners from 6 EU countries & designing 3 outputs. 

Firstly, we will design of a pedagogical method for VET providers to facilitate digital upskilling of VET staff & trainees in a COVID19 context. Secondly, we will create interactive learning modules for digital upskilling to enable VET Tutors to create & adapt their own digital learning resources to meet the digital needs of their trainees in a COVID19 context. Thirdly, we will develop interactive learning tutorials for trainees to develop the key digital skills required by host companies during blended & remote TWBL in a COVID19 context. With many teachers and trainees currently working from home, this becomes even more important, especially for smaller VET providers, lacking resources to develop their own materials. In this way, we aim to propose innovative solutions to meet the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic & the digital needs of VET tutors & trainees for appropriate innovative TWBL opportunities. 

We will test our outputs in pilot studies in 6 countries, with over 30 host companies & trainees. The project will cater for all categories of VET learner with special attention to the needs of those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds & less likely to take part in TWBL. The DSKILTI resources will be digitally-based, open-source, downloadable from the DSKILTI website & available in 6 languages.  They will empower VET providers to offer high-quality TWBL to their trainees & can be tailored to the needs of specific target groups. 

As George Couros said ‘Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.’ This is what we aim to facilitate in the DSKILTI project.

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