Digitization places new demands on further education

:Further education must become easier

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  • Peter-Andr Alt
The science of the future only works with competence in dealing with digital information

The science of the future only works with competence in dealing with digital information.


dpa / Britta Pedersen

Already in the seventies the concept of lifelong learning came up. He replaced the idea that biographies fall into a qualification and a professional share. In modern societies, people need to constantly learn to meet the needs of the labor market. Fifteen years ago, state ministries began to negotiate with their universities about the task of continuing education.

High demand through digitization

Because they did not want to leave the matter to private providers and companies alone, target agreements were made that required a commitment from academic institutions in this area. For the universities, this meant that they had to hold more offers for second-level studies in practice-related subjects in order to additionally qualify working people.

Today, the situation is simpler and at the same time more complex. There is a need for further training in the cross-sectional area of digitization. It affects every competence profile, regardless of the original training level. It applies long term, for practitioners as well as academics; Craft is as much a focus here as medicine, school, construction, economics or administration.

New fields of activity demand knowledge

Unlike 15 years ago, higher education has to rely less on two-subject courses than on digital literacy. As the Wissenschaftsrat emphasizes in a recently published paper, it is also about flexible offers.

It becomes difficult in the question of how to organize. Of course, one can not just harness the numerous computer science professorships that exist in Germany. The science of the future only works with competence in dealing with digital information. In each subject, there are currently new fields of activity that require appropriate knowledge.

High hurdles for further education

Tomorrow’s high school education is spread over the whole spectrum of disciplines, from archeology to dentistry. In all of these areas, experts have the necessary knowledge in the digital sector that can be taught in continuing education programs. The simulation of cell structures, material surfaces and market processes, the analysis of image material, the use of learning systems, the statistical analysis of data – all this is part of the broad spectrum of future course programs.

There are, however, considerable hurdles for the implementation of higher education: in view of full capacity utilization with students, there are no resources left for additional tasks. Legal conditions make it even more difficult. European state aid law defines public further training offers as a benefit that can create competitive disadvantages for third parties and requires extensive documentation of the services provided.

If policy-makers in the future want to facilitate substantiated continuing education through universities, it must do two things: provide additional funds for adequate human resources and simplify legal procedures. Both could be summarized in a “future pact education”, which indicates that the topic for our country is of utmost importance.