Cedefop - European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training - Refer Net Bulgaria

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Distant working and training - from exception to norm

17 July 2020 14:39

According to ILO data, more than 94% of the word population are affected by lockdown measures caused by COVID-19 situation. A great deal of these people are facing threats such as job loss and business closure, as well as the inability to work because they have to take care of their children. Several new studies have also highlighted that between a quarter to a third of all jobs in European economies could potentially be performed from home.

It turns out that due to the pandemic measures and the fact that many people stayed at home, the interest in VET and especially in online courses has increased. This is a surprising effect, given the situation. On the other hand, a study by Cedefop shows that in the context of coronavirus, students engaged in distance learning are much more at risk of dropout, especially those who are at risk of other circumstances.

We will see in the next couple of months or years whether these coronavirus consequences like homeworking and remote learning will be sustainable in EU labour markets.

Just a year before the coronavirus situation, 14% of EU-27 workers were engaged in remote work, ranging from over 37% in countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands – to 1-2% in Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. Those who worked from home are mainly males, natives and older employees, often with higher level of education and operation in higher skilled jobs and industries - ICT, professional and scientific activities, real estate and education sectors.

A study by Cedefop showed a correlation between work from home and increased participation in non-formal learning. Distance workers are more likely to participate in online courses, seminars, conferences and are more likely to focus on learning content outside the formal education and training system. They mostly participate in courses related to their work, and there is an interest in acquiring new knowledge in areas such as social sciences, business and law, education and ICT.  

There is still a long way to go before it can be understood whether working from home and remote VET participation will become the norm. In 2019, only 8% of EU citizens participated in an online course.

The current results of Cedefop's research on the link between distance work and learning will be published in a special Cedefop working document in the second half of 2020.