What is the main aim of PAITool?

The main aim of the PAITool project is to develop and test new flexible opportunities for VET on Artificial Intelligence (AI), that will support SME staff in adapting to and enacting digital transformation. This will be achieved by learning how to incorporate AI systems and tools in their own business structure and gain a competitive edge in the market.


Why did we come up with this project?

The global market for AI technology continues expanding rapidly and is expected to grow to well over 15 trillion Euros by 2030. The potential for AI at improving labour productivity and boosting profits for companies has already been demonstrated through existing technologies, and is expected to increase as management looks towards integrating AI technologies into their day-to-day business practices. 


The EU has repeatedly recognised the importance of AI, as evidenced by the many measures it has taken towards aligning on a common strategy around this technology, including the 2018 European Strategy for AI; the 2019 Guidelines for Trustworthy AI; and the Commission’s 2020 White Paper on AI. However, despite being aware of its potential, the European market for AI lags behind in the global sphere, with USA and China having a strong lead.


Therefore, the motivation of our project is to strengthen the competitiveness of European SMEs, by facilitating the increased uptake and integration of AI systems and tools in business practices, as well as to upskill the European workforce with appropriate digital skills and competences in the field of AI to promote the digital transformation of European SMEs.


The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2020 report identified that the percentage of people that have at least basic digital skills was 58% across the EU, showing that a large part of the population still lack basic digital skills even though most jobs require them. While enterprises overall are becoming more digitised, this is mainly the case in large companies, with the vast majority of SMEs still not integrating digital technologies.


The situation was found to be worse than average in Slovakia, with the percentage of Slovaks with basic digital skills decreasing from previous years. Slovakia ranks 22nd out of 28 EU countries in the DESI ranking, and 21st on integration of digital technology, with a lower score than previous years. While Slovakia has put forward a national digitisation strategy which supports the integration of technologies in companies, including AI, most SMEs in Slovakia fall short of EU averages in digitisation.

The situation is better in Malta, which ranks 5th in the DESI ranking, and has above EU average use of digital technologies by enterprises, ranking 7th in that area. The Maltese government has also recognised the importance of AI, putting forward a national strategy on AI in 2019, exploring how AI can improve the public and private sector.

Within this context, we seek to use our expertise to help ensure that every company, small or large, high-tech or not, can take advantage of digital opportunities. Providing opportunities for AI training, as we propose, will be essential for upskilling the European workforce with digital competencies needed to address modern labour market needs and prepare SMEs for the digital transformation, to meet both European and national targets for digitisation.


Who are we targeting?

  1. Professionals working in SMEs who need to improve their knowledge and skills especially in reference to digital tools and AI training
  2. Training organisations and/or educators working in on-the-job training environments
  3. Unemployed and/or low-qualified people in employment with limited IT or AI training or knowledge who need to upskill to meet the challenge brought on by Industry 4.0 and the digital transformation


How can you be involved in PAITool?

  1. Attend one of our webinars introducing the training course 
  2. Fill in our SME Digitisation Needs Survey which assesses the needs, limitations and obstacles that SMEs and their staff face in incorporating AI into their business as well as any knowledge gaps that the course may need to address
  3. Contribute to our Qualitative Assessment of Employment Barriers which includes a survey, interviews, and expert consultation. If you’d like to be interviewed or be part of our expert consultation, please send us an email on [email protected]
  4. Express your interest to be on the shortlist of SMEs which will take part in the training
  5. Carry out the course on the PAITool website and give us feedback
  6. Register for the Train-the-Trainers workshops to be held in late 2023 in Malta and Slovakia
  7. Register or recommend participants for the Upskilling Workshops to be held in late 2023 in Malta and Slovakia, targeted at unemployed or low-skilled workers who are seeking employment or newer opportunities for upskilling and adapting to the changing needs of the labour market.