IT Academy Estonia
The IT Academy is a cooperation programme between the Estonian government, universities, vocational schools, and information and communication technology entrepreneurs, launched in 2012, which aims to increase the quality of ICT-related education, develop research in the field and ensure digitally skilled workforce. The objectives of the programme take into account the needs of the national labour market and society, on one hand, and the expertise of universities and vocational schools, on the other.
The IT Academy is coordinated by the Education and Youth Board of Estonia (Harno). Harno manages the IT Academy programme, providing guidance and monitoring vocational and higher education, conducting research and analysis and coordinating the collaboration between the partners.
The main aims of the program are to ensure that:
- Estonian education system provide appropriate programmes to train specialists with ICT skills and knowledge, meeting the national labour market needs.
- ICT education and research offered in Estonia is of a high level and sustainable.
- ICT specialists develop also sector-specific competences, for a variety of sectors.
The IT Academy has three areas of activity focusing on research, higher education and vocational education on ICT topics.
In the area of vocational education, the main aim is to increase the quality of vocational secondary education, so that these programmes become more attractive, curricula and teaching are of high quality and students continue to study with higher education programmes after graduation. Activities include curriculum development, raising the quality of teaching, promoting cooperation with higher education institutions and with entrepreneurs, developing study materials etc.
Regarding higher education, the aim is to ensure that the skills of graduates meet the national needs in terms of labour market and economic development. Activities in this area include curriculum development, improving the quality of teaching, promoting cooperation with entrepreneurs, and implementing new teaching and study methodologies.
Finally, related to research, the main aim is to increase capacity, link research and development with teaching activities at all levels of higher education and developing cooperation with companies and entrepreneurs. Focus research areas are artificial intelligence and machine learning, data science and big data, robot-human interaction and Internet of Things in industrial processes, security and trustworthiness of software, hardware and systems; digital Transformation and lifelong learning activities.
As a result of other national activities developed with this approach (e.g. the ProgeTiger programme), one in nine students in Estonia choose to study ICT at bachelor and higher education level. Moreover, the rate of those choosing ICT at master's level has grown faster over the past 10 years, with one in seven students taking master's studies in the ICT area.