GOW 2016 launch in Amsterdam: Digital skills is a foundation but it doesn’t end there

Last week on 4 March an official launch event was held in Amsterdam to mark the start of the seventh European Get Online Week. Invited guest speakers from the European Commission and the industry shared their views on the progress and solutions of empowering Europeans with digital skills.

Mara Jakobsone, Chair of Telecentre Europe, opened the event by reflecting on her organisation’s LIKTA in Latvia commitment and contributions since the very first year in 2010.

Alexander Riedl (Deputy Head of Unit, DG Connect) from the European Commission joined the event via Skype. ‘It is surprising that in 2016 still 100 million Europeans have no or very limited digital skills,’ said A. Riedl. ‘Therefore Telecentre Europe has been a long-standing partner. The Commission has been spelling the gospel on how important digital skills are for the last few years. Neelie Kroes launched the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs; we have eSkills for Jobs to which Get Online Week contributes. We have also made sure that our funding programs such as the European Social Fund or Erasmus+ make digital skills a priority. This year the Commission will present a new Skills Agenda and digital skills will be an important part of its plan.’

Alexander Riedl from the European Commission

Alexander Riedl from the European Commission

A. Riedl also encouraged stakeholders to take action on the local level: ‘This is why Get Online Week is so important because this campaign achieves it. So every telecentre, every public library, every school, every co-working space should become a learning space for digital skills.’

This year’s campaign supporters Liberty Global and Cisco talked about why digital skills and inclusion is so important for the ICT industry. Piotr Pluta, Cisco Director Corporate Affairs EMEA, emphasized the new collaboration through Networking Academy (www.netacad.com) that will allow Telecentre partners to offer online learning courses on basic IT skills.

Piotr Pluta from Cisco Photo credits: Frank van Beek

Piotr Pluta from Cisco
Photo credits: Frank van Beek

Roy Sharon, Director CSR Liberty Global, presented how digital imagination could be the new approach to engage people in learning digital skills but also contributing with their knowledge to collective solutions and making social impact. ‘We also look at the ways how to make it exciting for young people to get involved and upscale and upskill their digital knowledge.’ R. Sharon continued: ‘For us it starts with skills as this is the foundation but it doesn’t end there. We give entrepreneurs the ability, the know-how, the platform to use those digital skills to address societal issues.’

Roy Sharon (Director CSR) from Liberty Global Photo credits: Frank van Beek

Roy Sharon (Director CSR) from Liberty Global
Photo credits: Frank van Beek

The Digital Champion of the Netherlands Tineke Netelenbos talked about activities in the country within the context of GOW. ‘Make IT Work’ is this year’s motto to motivate all those with basic ICT skills to practice their skills and learn new. So called Digital Aid Centres aim to provide digital training in over 500 locations during the week of 14-20 March.

Digital Champion of the Netherlands Tineke Netelenbos Photo credits: Frank van Beek

Digital Champion of the Netherlands Tineke Netelenbos
Photo credits: Frank van Beek

All information on activities is also published online (www.digitaalhulpplein.nl). Helpline will be available for those who do not have sufficient digital skills and prefer to get information via phone. ‘What we see is that people think they are digitally skilled. But at the end of the day they don’t have all the skills they need. During the Get Online Week 3 million Dutch households can be activated by ‘Make IT Work’ campaign,’ concluded Tineke Netelenbos.

At the end of the launch event Tineke Netelenbos handed over a Dutch advertorial to TE’s Chair Mara Jakobsone as a symbol of the GOW campaign in the Netherlands. GOW 2016 will be running from 14 to 20 March in at least 23 countries. Trust and confidence together with skills for digital jobs is at the core of this year’s campaign coordinated by Telecentre Europe with its 28 members.

Mara Jakobsone and Tineke Netelenbos Photo credits: Frank van Beek

Mara Jakobsone and Tineke Netelenbos
Photo credits: Frank van Beek

More photos of the event are available on Telecentre Europe’s Flickr account.