On 25-26 November, Mara Jakobsone (LIKTA) and Katarzyna Udała (DIGITALEUROPE) represented the Women4IT project at the EEA and Norway Grants’ Annual Seminar of Active Youth Projects.
The main themes of our discussion were:
- Vulnerable groups and competence development
- ICT/Digital, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship
- Challenges for European youth – working together towards a more inclusive, cohesive society in rural, coastal and island communities
Mara and Katarzyna joined the conference not only as participants but also as speakers in the ICT/Digital, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship panel.
Digital transformation and the future of work
In her intervention, Katarzyna discussed the future of work in the digital age and explored how digital transformation translates into the labour market and its needs. She started by highlighting that digital transformation is a cross-sectoral change; thus, it impacts many other sectors of our economy: healthcare, education, manufacturing, and so on, not just the tech-related fields.
She went on to explain that it is impossible to determine the jobs of the future, but what we can predict are the skills of tomorrow — and those are, with all certainty, digital. Katarzyna expressed that there is a huge need for reskilling to ensure that the European workforce remains competitive on the job market, but that there is also a necessity for upskilling those who are currently neither in employment nor in education or training (NEETs).
The industry is responsive to these needs, she said, providing examples of online learning platforms and MOOCs (massive open online courses) developed by SAP Learning for Life and Amazon Web Services. Moreover, Katarzyna presented educational initiatives such as Erase All Kittens and CyberWayFinder that are aimed especially at empowering girls and women to gain digital skills and develop careers in the tech sector.
Engaging women in digital careers
While Katarzyna set the context for the discussion, Mara followed with a presentation showcasing the Women4IT project, which tackles three wide European challenges:
- Youth unemployment
- ICT specialist gap in Europe
- Low involvement of women and girls into digital jobs and ICT professions.
She emphasised that action is necessary to encourage and stimulate the interest of young people, particularly women, to engage in ICT-related studies and subsequent careers. What’s more, she pinpointed that women represent an enormous talent pool, therefore, it is vital to attract girls and women to ICT careers as well as to ensure that once women start pursuing careers in the digital field, they continue to do so. All these causes come together and constitute the Women4It mission that guides us through the project.
The event served as a wonderful occasion to meet the representatives of other projects being developed under the umbrella of the Fund for Youth Employment, exchange inspiring practices as well as identify solutions to the challenges that the organisations face and, finally, to create functional synergies within the programme and its members.
Thank you to the EEA and Norway Grants and ECORYS for organising such a useful event and driving motivation across the projects.