The second panel of the event, “Fireside chat: How can AI contribute to bridging the digital divide?” was a conversation between Gerardo Franco – Philanthropies Lead Western Europe at Microsoft – and Silvano de Marte – Communications & Community Engagement Officer at DigiCo – where Artificial Intelligence played a central role. The speakers first addressed AI and the changes it will bring about regarding the labour market, and then moved into AI and its potential to narrow the digital skills gap. In this respect, Gerardo Franco enumerated three aspects that need special attention: 1) address computer science education in young people, 2) handle the needs of workers today for reskilling and upskilling, and 3) put special attention to all those people who are not in those two categories (such as individuals from non-traditional backgrounds and underserved populations). He also highlighted that educators play a fundamental role in this transitional period, that AI literacy is crucial to make the best use of this new technology, and that soft skills such as critical thinking and empathy will be the skills that will help individuals use AI in the best and most positive way towards inclusiveness.
The third panel of the event, “Panel Discussion: European and Global best practices for tackling basic (digital) skills gaps”, welcomed three experts in adult education with different levels of governance: global, European and regional. Rakhat Zholdoshalieva – Team Leader and Researcher at UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) -, Viola Pinzi – Head of Projects at the European Association for the Education of Adults -, and Antra Carlsen – Head Coordinator at the Nordic Network for Adult Learning (NVL) – joined Léa Ichikawa – Program Manager at DigiCo – to discuss best practices for basic skills training. All three speakers gave their perspectives on solutions to reducing the basic skills gap and increasing the number of individuals that reach basic skills while sharing concrete examples and best practices within their governance. They also discussed lifelong learning and highlighted equity and inclusion as fundamental notions for policy, curriculum and training design. The event ended after Léa Ichikawa’s closing remarks.