Brussels, Belgium – When visualizing the future of Belgium, AI and education are considered to have an inevitable close link together. Many great initiatives have taken place all over Belgium to enhance the education of the next generation about AI, data, and robotics, and more importantly on emphasizing the importance of ethics for their implementations moving forward. Some of those initiatives were presented in the AI & Education for Young People and Belgium event which took place on November 16 at Be Central. It was organized by the Digit@ll collective, financed by the Digital Belgian Skills Fund and Innoviris. This consortium is led by la Scientothèque, FARI, Bemaker, CollectiveUP, Erasmushogeschool.
There were 16 AI education active players and participating organizations in the event including AI4Belgium, SOMA, We are coders, DigitaleWolven, CoderDojo, Technofutur TIC, Dwengo and the University of Gent, amai!, Brightlab, CEPES Jodoigne, College Cardinal Mercier, Sint-Lievenscollege, CodeNplay, Artificial Intelligence Lab (VUB), BeCode, Nooby.tech. In this event, participants had a chance to attend the short speeches of these participating organizations and visit tables that presented different interesting pedagogical materials. The participants also had an opportunity to interact with the local experts to understand broadly the current state of Belgium when it comes to integrating AI, data, and robotics in education, the main actors in the country, and their approaches to teaching about the technology and its ethical and legal constraints.
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The AI & Education for Young People and Belgium event also had an honor to have the participation of the secretary of state in digitization of the Belgian Federal Government, Mathieu Michel. He acknowledged both the challenges of such an innovative move in education for young people in Belgium as well as the importance of having active actors in this ecosystem to join forces in tackling the challenges and smoothen the transition. A panel discussion on the future of AI Education in Belgium was moderated by Nathanaël Ackerman from AI4Belgium / BOSA. Saskia van Uffelen closed this inspiring conversation by providing some insights and key take-away messages.
What gives a rise to AI education is the growing demand it has in the market. According to Agoria, Belgium’s largest sectoral federation, the technology sector will create a total of 40,000 additional jobs for 16 per working day by the end of 2030. This figure confirms the technology federation’s commitment to ensure at least 8 out of 10 people in Belgium from the age of 20 to 64 will have a job by the end of 2030. The high demand of AI also triggered the need for universities to offer the study degree in AI and Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) was among the first to offer a three-year-degree program from the academic year 2022-2023.
A follow-up event after this will happen in 2023 where the organizations that are working on AI, Data, and Tech Ethics education in Belgium will have an opportunity to come together and gain inspiration to collaborate and join forces to bring a high quality AI education in the country.