LIKTA, with the financial support of Microsoft Philanthropies, offered free digital skills development courses, which help to improve qualifications of employees and increase efficiency at work and in everyday life. Anta Klepecka, who was one of the course and internship organizers of “Virtual Internships in the Baltics” project, shares more about her experience in the interview.
Anta, almost 16,000 participants from all three Baltic countries have already been trained in the “Virtual Internships in the Baltics” project. What is your experience in planning courses and course content for an international project? How did you manage to find the most trendy topics?
We followed various news in the world of technology, we looked at how to teach digital skills to the citizens of the Baltic countries for free and at the same time practically and effectively, so that those skills would enable them as the labor market participants. Then we created appropriate programs about tools with which work skills can be implemented, for example, data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine translation. These are the tools that a lot of organizations want to work with at the moment, hence such programs. Of course, we also applied local course languages – Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian, as well as courses in English, which are available to everyone. We also managed to organize a data analysis course in Ukrainian.
The project covered all Baltic countries and Lithuanians and Estonians also had an opportunity to listen to the courses in their native language. In your experience, what are the most essential differences between Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian course participants? Are their approaches to learning, expected results different?
Yes, they are different. Latvians and Lithuanians are much more willing to learn courses in their local language, although this does not mean that they are less proficient in English. Latvians and Lithuanians are more open in conversation and discussion with the teacher, whereas Estonians choose courses in English much more. Also for Estonians, it is more important to get a certificate at the end of the course proving that they have attended and studied this particular course, because taking the final test is a free choice.
Currently, there is a wide range of courses on the market, where you can learn current knowledge, including about artificial intelligence. What makes the courses offered by LIKTA in cooperation with the LU Innovation Center LUMIC different?
The courses are not very different, but firstly, we offer free options and secondly, what people appreciated is that they are self-directed self-study courses. We had specific webinars, independent tasks, which were then placed in the e-school and a person could listen, learn and work at his/her own pace and time. People also had an opportunity to study one or more courses several times. In my opinion, this freedom set our courses apart from others.
The participants of the project were offered not only to acquire theoretical knowledge, but also to supplement their theoretical knowledge in internships led by an industry specialist. Looking back at the organized internships, how do you evaluate such an approach? What would you change about this approach?
The approach is very good, that is why we created one. First theoretical knowledge and only then internship tasks, where the acquired knowledge can be strengthened more widely. An adult learns best only in this way – learning by doing. What would we do differently next time – we organized the internships only at the end of the studies, but I think that in courses with in‑depth knowledge, it would be possible to start organizing the internship already in the middle of the studies, in this way, if something is not clear in the practice, you can turn to the teacher and get answers to your questions.
In your opinion, what is modern and effective learning? What should course organizers consider?
Dynamic lessons, interesting and exciting instructor who shares knowledge in webinars and who is a practitioner who deals in work with what he teaches others. People study at convenient time and place. It’s modern and efficient learning, of course, respecting all deadlines, but still learning when it’s convenient for you.
If the project were to continue, would there be new courses? And what would they be? What is the most relevant thing in the ICT sector at the moment?
Artificial intelligence is still the most relevant. We would definitely develop artificial intelligence courses, teach not only the basics, but also about each of the directions of artificial intelligence in more detail. Creating an interdisciplinary approach, linking different tools together, such as data analysis together with artificial intelligence, to shape broader tasks for students to complete. At the same time, not forgetting people who have very low ICT skills. There are still such people, and they also need to be given opportunities.
The project “Virtual Internships in the Baltics” is aimed at giving everyone the opportunity to improve their digital skills and even change their career path. How do you see the future of the ICT industry and in what direction should those who want to start and continue working in the ICT industry look?
Not only those who want to work in the field of ICT, but all modern professionals and people need digital skills, skills to work with ICT tools. Therefore, I would encourage everyone to stay up to date, participate in free training if available, or participate in paid courses if necessary. This is the main key – you have to learn everyday and learn by doing, you don’t have to be afraid of new ICT tools. ICT professionals need to keep up with global trends as tools are constantly evolving. The main keyword is to learn and start using and practicing new tools!
The project “Virtual internships in the Baltics” lasted from April 2023 till the January 2024. You can still register for the courses “Business and Data Analysis” and “Artificial Intelligence with Python”, prepared and taught by Deivids Tenis (both in Latvian and English) – the course webinars are recorded and together with specially designed practical tasks and learning materials are available by registering in www.balticinternships.eu Also courses “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” and “Python Programming” are available to everyone interested.
The courses are available free of charge. The courses can be studied until March 31, 2024, obtaining a certificate confirming completion of the course.