The Human Capital project is the EU educational sector’s answer to robots taking over jobs—and AI has a role to play

Supported by the European Institute of Technology (EIT) and endowed with an annual budget of €3 million, the Human Capital project, which focuses on innovation in education and on digital skills and competencies, is an EU-wide effort to build bridges between research communities in climate, energy, food, health, manufacturing, raw materials, urban mobility and digital technologies.

It aims to ease exchanges between a number of scientists and innovators within each of these fields, as they would usually work separately on the same topic: The future of education and what this means to Europe’s workforce. Particularly, it aims to explore these questions in a context where both a changing climate and increased automation are already putting tremendous pressure on workers. While robots could take over 20 million manufacturing jobs around the world by 2030, 70 per cent of jobs in Europe’s coal country are expected to disappear in the coming decade.

From Polish coal mining regions to factory cooperatives in Spain’s Basque country, local authorities and enterprises are under intense pressure to re-train entire swaths of the local labour force. Their aim is to safeguard jobs and avoid, at best, brain drain, and in the worth case, the massive unemployment past industrial disruptions have brought to some of Europe’s regions. 

The Human Capital project offers a range of possible answers to this issue and led to the development of new online education programmes within the EIT, which are backed by some of the old continent’s most prestigious universities and are all available on a single digital platform.

One of the originalities of the project is that it used artificial intelligence (AI) tools to support the creation of the courses. These were used to predict future “skill gaps,” areas where trained workers are needed but unavailable to employers in sufficient numbers, for example, in the energy sector where coal powered plants make way to renewable energy and help to bridge them with relevant courses as part of the EIT’s existing offer. 

AI was also explored as a tool to help develop new education methods, particularly answering the needs of people who are already in employment or what education experts call “lifelong learning.” AI tools, researchers argue, have a key role to play in keeping older, remote and increasingly distracted students engaged in their own education. It also allows for the development of new gamification techniques to make learning later in life less challenging.

Earlier this year, the EIT Lifelong Learning Conference brought together, from the comfort of their online pulpits, researchers and teachers from across the European continent to present their conclusions after  running the Human Capital project. Over a day, they discussed an array of innovative tools which are already being used in virtual classrooms to engage online learners and encouraged meaningful behavioural and structural change in EU member countries’ national education systems.

“In the past century, education methods have not changed much, there is a lot of room for improvement” said Martijn Klabbers, a scientist from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands involved in the Human Capital project. “Universities have a market gap to fill where it comes to lifelong learning, there is not enough offer compared to the demand.” 

COVID-19 has helped in fostering interest for the overall project, speeding up its deployment as universities were scrambling to develop their online course offers in the early days of the pandemic. 

Younger people were not left behind and heavily contributed to the development of technological solutions through education-focused digital hacking events or DigiEduHacks, with new tools already up and running despite hacking events having taken place mainly online due to the pandemic.

Despite the challenge COVID-19 brought to the Human Capital project, major shifts to online working and learning have highlighted the need for high quality and accessible digital learning platforms. The project is planned to be continued in 2021, with a renewed focus on climate and the environment, to align with the aims of the European Green Deal.

 
Location
Related Goal
Goal 9: Reboot regional economies
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators

The EIT Climate-KIC Week of Action will celebrate, recognise...

EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses

As companies and practitioners around the world are looking...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses
In The News
NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-ze...

Starting in October 2021, the new project NetZeroCities will...

NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-zero emissions by 2030
In The News
In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President...

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined her...

In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President von der Leyen
In The News
New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report has launched. The report...

New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation
In The News
Moving beyond ‘brown coal’ in Europe’s rural regions

Together with Partners, EIT Climate-KIC is leading a process...

Moving beyond ‘brown coal’ in Europe’s rural regions
In The News
EU’s “Fit for 55” to spur policy innovation for climate action

The European Commission has released its “Fit for 55”...

EU’s “Fit for 55” to spur policy innovation for climate action
In The News
Munich Re and ERGO invest in EIT Climate-KIC carbon removal programme

Major German corporate group sets the ambition to accelerate...

Munich Re and ERGO invest in EIT Climate-KIC carbon removal programme
In The News
23 pilot projects selected by EIT to unlock higher education’s innovation po...

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

23 pilot projects selected by EIT to unlock higher education’s innovation potential in Europe
In The News
Investing in start-ups scales the offering of climate adaptation solutions in ...

A partnership between EIT Climate-KIC and CDC Group, the...

Investing in start-ups scales the offering of climate adaptation solutions in African and South Asian countries
In The News
Irish Aid extends support for innovation and development from the ground up

The Government of Ireland’s development assistance programme, Irish Aid,...

Irish Aid extends support for innovation and development from the ground up
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC showcases climate innovation at R&I Days

EIT Climate-KIC participated in the European Commission’s Research and...

EIT Climate-KIC showcases climate innovation at R&I Days
In The News
Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity

Branch Magazine, a collaboration between EIT Climate-KIC, Mozilla Foundation...

Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity
In The News
Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans

The circular economy concept is of crucial importance to...

Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans
In The News
Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice

Enrolment is now open for placement hosts and participants...

Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice
In The News
Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Co...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Lixea (formerly Chrysalix Technologies) has received...

Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Council Fund
In The News
Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova

Moldova is one of Europe’s most modest contributors to...

Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova
In The News
Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality

Poland’s former capital and one of its oldest cities,...

Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality
In The News
Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?

On 23 April, EIT Climate-KIC CEO Kirsten Dunlop spoke...

Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?
In The News
EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy

The European Commission has published its EU-wide classification system for...

EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy
In The News
New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?

On 22 and 23 April, the first conference dedicated...

New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?
In The News
Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase

EIT Climate-KIC supported Estonian start-up Sympower has raised €5.2...

Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase
In The News
Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list

Twelve entrepreneurs from across the EIT community have been...

Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list
In The News
These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe

Google, in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, launched the €10...

These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe
In The News
New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups

Found by us, funded by you, a new start-up...

New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups
In The News
From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching ...

It’s a beverage revolution: Healthy hydration while fooling your...

From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching in new markets
In The News
#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enabl...

As part of the fifth SDG Global festival of...

#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enablers