The last ten years have been a time of massive turbulence in the world of ICT. Rapid technological change, coupled with market liberalisation of telecoms provision and the increase of the e- companies, has transformed the sector. Increasingly, major ICT companies are international, rather than national, players. At the same time, skills in information technology and multimedia have become a key factor in the development of society, especially in the context of globalization and European structures building, having a direct impact in the implementation of the e-government concept. The rapid developments in Internet, multimedia, satellite broadcasting technologies, digital audio, digital video, mobile telephony and television are a challenge today for ensuring that enough workers with the necessary skills are available to meet the needs of the industry .
As stated in eEurope 2005: An information society for all' the EU strategy is to make the European Union the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy with improved employment and social cohesion by 2010. In order to achieve it, society will need to provide opportunities for people to participate in society and helping the workforce to acquire the skills needed in a knowledge-driven economy. eEurope 2005 puts users at the centre. It will improve participation, open up opportunities for everyone and enhance skills. The project addresses all four priorities of Lisbon Statement: ICT training for all employees by promoting equal opportunities policy and equal access for the target group of the Master; Certification of training in ICT as the development of a common joint curricula and certificate by the project partners; Use of Internet as a training tool as the most of the program will be Web-based using distance education methodology; Modernisation of work organisation as the main method of working between the partners during and beyond the project lifetime will be teleworking.
All the partners are actors in the area of information technologies and have developed analytical research to establish the training needs. This research has shown that there is a strong need at local, national and European level for training in multimedia (as a plus the partners have strong links with companies from the Technology Park of Sophia-Antipolis, Nice and from the newly established Technology Park in Timisoara ) . Information and communication technologies (ICT) are pivotal tools for advancing EU prosperity. In this context, the emergence of the knowledge economy is causing a structural change in skills requirements toward ICT. The so-called IT skills shortage' has become a major issue in Europe (where the EU is concerned at a possible 1.7 million shortfall in the number of IT workers in the labour force by 2003 ( Europe 's Growing IT Skills Crisis, IDC executive summary 2002)). IDC expects that the shortage of skilled networking professionals in Western Europe will increase from approximately 200,000 in 2000 to just below 500,000 in 2005, representing a shortage of 25%.
The IMM addresses the need for education in the area of multimedia. A characteristic in this field of activity is the inderdisciplinarity of the knowledge required. Graduates with a multimedia degree are in demand both as employees of large companies and as self-employed consultants on a freelance basis. Valid results can be obtained only with staff educated in different connected areas. The target group of the new study program is based on recent graduates with a first degree in technologies, as well as people working in connected environments, which do not allow for periods of education outside the company. This is why, the use of new educational technologies such as on-line learning over the Internet and distance education have been taken into consideration.
The Bologna Process Final Conference on Master-level Degrees from Helsinki, Finland in March 2003 state Joint master degrees at the European level should become an important feature of European higher education both to promote intra-European cooperation and in order to attract talented students and researchers from other continents to study and work in Europe. The main outcome of our project the Master of Science even if it is mainly designed by Phare countries universities due to its delivery method on-line - it is a joint program which addresses an international audience. It will bring the education systems from Phare countries into Europe and beyond.
In the present proposal a wide range of ODL actors from EU and CEE countries, represented by two of their international networks (E-Collegium and the partners in MISSION project - 90389 CP-1-2001-1-MINERVA-HU) would focus on developing an innovative approach for enhancing international e-learning course development and delivery.
The project partners (including also some other institutions/ persons not directly involved in this project) have met on December 8 in Budapest, HU in order to disscus the need of this new study program at international and national level, to share the common experience in the multimedia area academic programs, to disscuss the current legislation for academic accreditation in each country. The meeting was successful, establishing the partnership and the main activities of this project.
Young people need knowledge in modern information technology, an area with very rapid growth.They also need knowledge in communication, in how to handle the informartion, how to process and to deliver it. As this has been found to be a general target for all members of the project consortium, we intend to develop a new study program at Master level in the area of multimedia delivered using ODL technology, that can be applied and adapted by all the countries, ensuring the same level of skills all over Europe . This is the direct objective of the project.