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Study reveals huge digital skills gap in teaching

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Many European teachers have said they lack the confidence and experience to use technology in their teaching and risk increased work stress as a result, a new international report by Vodafone Foundation has uncovered.  A survey of 3,000 teachers in eleven European countries reveals a significant digital divide in education across the continent, with teachers supporting the need for training opportunities and support from policymakers as a result.

The 21st Century Teachers report shows how societal and technological demands are transforming education in Europe, and where teachers need support to survive and thrive in a technology-led world.

Teachers poorly prepared to use technology

Despite the global shift towards digital learning amid school closures during the pandemic, today’s research finds that a major disparity has emerged among European teachers’ digital skills.

  • 20% of teachers surveyed say they have little or no experience using digital technology for teaching.
  • 48% feel increased work stress due to the lack of integration of digital technology in their teaching,
  • 42% feel they quickly reach their limits when using technology.
  • By contrast 48% of teachers report they use a variety of digital technology with their students

The study shows that leaders and experts in digital teaching are more prevalent in the Southern European countries of Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, as well as in Hungary, than they are in other countries.  Less digitally skilled teachers are found in Turkey, Germany, Albania, Romania and the Netherlands.

Demands for a uniform European standard

Today’s study also highlights an opportunity for governments to address the gap identified by teachers in digital education and digital skills. 

  • 78% of teachers believe more is expected of schools and teachers from their government in digital teaching than can actually be achieved.
  • 72% think education policy measures are not sufficient to prepare students for future job markets,
  • 75% of teachers state there should be uniform European wide policies and standards for digital education.

Joakim Reiter, Chief External and Corporate Affairs Officer, Vodafone Group, said: “While it’s alarming to see so many teachers across Europe struggling to keep up with the race to accelerate digital education, I’m encouraged by their readiness to support education reform at a European-wide level. With 2023 earmarked as the European year of Skills, if we want to see the next generation of youth empowered and thriving in an increasingly complex, ever more digital 21st century world, it’s critical that we take a serious look at the support, training and tools needed to set schools and teachers up for success.”

Vodafone Foundation’s mission through SkillsUpload Europe is to empower everyone with the skills, confidence and know-how to thrive in a flourishing digital society. The programme operates in 14 European countries, focusing on primary and secondary school pupils, adults not in education, employment or training and older people. Through locally targeted, tailored learning initiatives as well as partnerships with communities, educators, NGOs and governments, SkillsUpload Europe aims to drive lasting systemic change in how people learn to use technologies in their personal, professional and academic lives.

Methodology

The survey was conducted by Ipsos Germany in 11 countries: Albania, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Turkey. Target groups included primary school teachers, lower secondary teachers and upper secondary teachers. A total of 3,082 teachers were interviewed during the field work period of May 4 to June 16, 2022.

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