Spark Forum 2013: Youth employment and ICT skill building

Clara Centeno (IPTS) speaking at Spark 2013 on ICT skills and employability

Telecentre Europe was one of the co-organisers of Spark: the 4th Global Forum on Telecentres, held on May 28-29 in Granada, Spain. The event was a great success: more than 1,200 participants from the information and communication technology for development (ICT4D) sector as well as private, public, and non-profit organizations from around the globe came to Granada for two days of learning, networking and sharing.

Telecentre Europe led four important panel sessions at Spark, panels that presented motivated speakers from a variety of organisations in Europe and beyond.

At the first morning session titled Telecentres: Youth, Skills and Employment  Chris Coward from the University of Washington provided a background on ICT skills development and stated that the role of telecentre operators will increasingly be to facilitate ICT skills for the new jobs that are available in ICT sector. Dr Rachel Awad, from Silatech, a social initiative for youth job creation in the Arab world, talked about the high unemployment rate amongst Arab youth (25%) and how Silatech helps by career guidance programmes and partnerships with the private sector.

Clara Centeno from the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS- European Commission) revealed three proposals for action against the risk of ICT exclusion, a problem that may affect up to 25% of youth in Europe today and prevent them from accessing ICT skills and jobs. In first place, Ms. Centeno highlighted the need to fight the digital divide which is still present in Europe, then to adopt a broad view of digital competencies (a framework has been developed by the European Commission and the next step is to start filling the enormous number of job vacancies  projected in ICT sector) and lastly, there is a need to have a holistic approach to individual needs when it comes to ICT.

Manus Hanratty, from “Fast Track to IT” (FIT), the Irish member  of Telecentre Europe, talked about bridging the gap between ICT job vacancies and the shortage of ICT skills through an initiative led by FIT in Ireland that began 13 years ago. They went to disadvantaged areas to train young people to enter into digital jobs. Their model was based on bringing employers and government together, using government resources to build the curriculum based on employers needs. They then set  up a learning  path and a support system for at least three years after the course. The result: 9000 people were put in ICT jobs! Moreover, the initiative changed perspectives on the potential of disadvantaged groups, reduction in poverty and social exclusion.

For presentation slides from the speakers, please contact our communication manager Masha Tarle.