Rural areas suffer from a skills gap, limited access to training provision and low propensity to take up training, especially continuing training. This puts the majority of their labour force (especially employees of small and micro-enterprises, the self-employed and farmers) at a disadvantage, places rural businesses and jobs at risk and restricts job mobility. Rural areas also suffer from a digital divide and that limits the potential of using IT for Vocational Education and Training. The Euracademy Observatory aims to build a body of information and knowledge through research on the above issues mapping the lifelong learning needs of managers and employees in rural areas and assessing the uptake or potential uptake of IT-supported learning by them. During the initial phase which is funded by the Leonardo programme, the sampling frame, research methodology and tools have been established and piloted, with a view to repeat the research at regular intervals, i.e. every three years, so that updated information and comparative data will be compiled on a long-term basis, to aid the development of appropriate policies and measures for rural areas.

Who benefits?
The beneficiaries of the Observatory include training providers, individual learners, certification agencies, social partners, policy makers and researchers, especially those connected to rural economies, employees of small or “micro” size enterprises including the self employed, those representing workers and enterprises, which may act as mediators in spreading the benefits of lifelong learning to those who have limited access to continuing education and training because of access or attitudes.

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