A Different Approach

The term “non-formal education” and its recognition on a global scale came about in the 1960s when consolidated educational institutions had to face an economic crisis and received questions about their lacking ability to adapt to a new society. Since then it has been a driving force in education, not least in the digital age where people have literally “learnt how to learn” and have taught themselves to become digitally literate. We believe that the project can contribute greatly to upskilling adult educators as facilitators. This is especially important in the adult education sector as young people have learned to become digitally literate in a quicker and more effective way than most adults who do not already work in the computing industry. The non-formal approach to teaching coding is paramount in this sector in order to close the skills gap faced by women returners whilst still remaining engaging and relevant.

These methods, together with our approach to embedding transferable employability skills (as redefined key competences; EC, Jan 2018) within the informal learning content will deliver an innovative practice to benefit migrant women returners in this digital era, and provide a project legacy of open educational resources for adult educators.

The Need & Demand

The dynamic of the labour market has changed greatly over the last few years, and many jobs that are currently in demand didn’t even exist 10 years ago. The EC’s “White Paper on the Future of Europe” states that “most of us will end up working in job types that do not yet exist”. This sentiment is also true for migrant women returning to work following periods of unemployment. The jobs they left may change and evolve in the time that they are not in them.

Policymakers and employers are putting more and more pressure on educational providers to challenge them to adapt to the digital age and help their learners build transferable skills in order to respond to labour market demand. In order to respond to such a daunting future scenario, as adult education organisations, working with migrant women returners, we need to do more to equip these women with the appropriate skills for re-entering the labour market, address “the need for an inclusive, lifelong-learning based and innovation-driven approach to education and training” (EC, 14 Dec 2017), and provide them with the appropriate recognition for such skills whether gained non-formally or formally.

The problem identified is the lack of skills, competencies, and knowledge in the area of coding and robotics for community development workers and adult educators, the issue is that the normal channel of consideration in the national school curriculum in most countries to support its introduction has failed to materialise and for many adults, it did not even exist when they were of school age. The organisations represented in the project have all developed as a direct response for the interest and enthusiasm migrant women returners have shown for this topic and the lack of response to this need so far in formal adult education is non-existent.