Digital skills: Training to transform

The acceleration of digitalisation has run parallel to the exponential growth of numerous fields that have changed habits as relevant as work, leisure or healthcare. And while this technological revolution has brought innumerable benefits, it has also gone hand in hand with inequalities. If society is not prepared to face this new challenge, we run the risk of becoming vulnerable.

digital skills
Carmen Morenés. Managing Director of Telefónica Foundation.

Carmen Morenés

Reading time: 8 min

Employers anticipate -according to the World Economic Forum– a structural labour market churn of 23% of jobs in the next five years. Digital skills can help us to be better prepared. SDGs 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work) and 9 (deploy connectivity) go hand in hand with helping people and society thrive.

It is not enough to have access to the Internet and technologies, you have to know how to use them. This is pointed out by both the mobile carriers’ association, the GSMA, and the World Benchmarking Alliance, the organisation that annually carries out the Digital Inclusion Benchmark, a ranking of the 150 most important companies in the ICT sector, and whose 2021 edition was led by Telefónica.

For our Executive Chairman, José María Álvarez-Pallete, “training and digital skills are the backbone for overcoming social divides, which is why “reskilling” is one of the most important challenges facing Europe today.”

With this conviction, Telefónica and its foundation have spent years offering training options in digital skills and new technologies to help people face the demands of the present and future labour market.

Driving digital employment

In our company, through the Telefónica Foundation, we want to place people at the centre of our training programmes so that they can learn at their own pace and are masters of their own learning. With the creation of the Innovation and Talent Hub, which the foundation has joined, we offer society different types of training adapted to its needs, i.e. for those who want to retrain professionally, for those who want to improve their future job opportunities or for those who find themselves unemployed. We also provide them with tools and resources for guidance and advice on how to find employment in the new digital world.

The purpose with all these initiatives is none other than to drive digital education and job training in order to meet the changing needs of the labour market. A labour market that increasingly requires more professionals specialised in the digital world, a general demand throughout Europe and one exacerbated in Spain.

Guidance, counselling and training in digital skills and profiles

At the Telefónica Foundation we advise, guide and train people to connect society with today’s digital skills. Thanks to Conecta Empleo (Connect Employment), the digital training programme of the Telefónica Foundation, for the last seven years we have been offering online courses ranging from web design or the basics of programming to specific nanodegrees in the Transport, Construction or Agri-Food and Horticulture industries. In 2022, Conecta Empleo trained 309,000 people in nine countries.

In addition, through two free interactive tools, based on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, we guide and advise those who need it in their job search. The Job Map, a platform present in Spain, Argentina and Chile, offers job vacancies in real time and the skills needed to acquire them. On the other hand, the Virtual Career Coach advises people on the most sought-after digital skills and offers training courses to prepare you for the most in-demand digital profiles.

Campus 42, revolutionary training: 100% employability

And for those who want more personalised, innovative and disruptive training, the answer is 42. Programming has become the language of the 21st century, a necessary skill for today’s society. In 2019, the Telefónica Foundation launched 42 Madrid, the first programming campus in Spain, with a pioneering methodology based on peer-to-peer learning and gamification, with no classes, no books and no teachers that guarantees 100% employability.

There are currently 5 campuses promoted by the Telefónica Foundation: Madrid, Barcelona, Urduliz (Bizkaia), Malaga and São Paulo. Free, face-to-face and without the need for prior training or qualifications, at 42 you not only learn programming, cybersecurity, design, blockchain, etc., but also soft skills such as communication, leadership, frustration tolerance and teamwork, some of the most in-demand skills in today’s companies.

42 has entered, for the third consecutive year, in the TOP 10 most innovative universities in the world, ahead of such prestigious institutions as Princeton, Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge according to the WURI ranking. And it has retained its top position in ethical values, according to the Real Impact World Universities ranking.

Quality digital education for all

And in order to achieve training in the hopes of having job opportunities, one must start with quality education and learning, which everyone has access to and where no one is left behind.  Now in its sixth year, the ProFuturo programme, in collaboration with “la Caixa” Foundation, provides transformative teaching-learning models and responds to the growing education gap with digital innovation.

ProFuturo works with three intervention models to bring quality digital education to the most vulnerable places on the planet: transforming the educational experience for teachers and students, and improving the development of 21st century skills needed to meet the challenges of today’s world. To do so, what is fundamental to education is high-quality digital educational resources, innovative teaching and learning methodologies and teacher training.

Escuelas Conectadas platform (Connected Schools), which is part of ProFuturo, is key for example in Brazil, where it offers online training and promotes innovative practices using digital technologies. The aim is to help educators to achieve a more digital education in a country where one in five municipalities do not include technology education in the curriculum.

ProFuturo is present in 45 countries and by 2022 has reached 7.4 million children and trained 411,000 teachers. The program has been selected as a best practice example for its innovative approach to digital education at the UN Education Transformation Summit.

Combating digital and social vulnerability

Older people already represent around a quarter of the population in many countries and most require training in digital skills to keep up with the rapid pace of technological transformation we are experiencing. Hence the importance we at Telefónica attach to their training.

A special mention should be made of Digital mobil im Alter, the programme we have been running in Germany since 2012 together with the Digital Opportunities Foundation to bring seniors closer to digitalisation and to guide them in overcoming their fears. In 2022, the initiative reached 737,000 seniors. In addition to continuing to provide them with materials to support their independent learning, we held an intergenerational debate in which seniors met with schoolchildren to discuss misinformation and digital media.

During 2022, the Telefónica Foundation has launched various digital literacy initiatives for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, through workshops, awareness-raising actions, virtual support projects and intergenerational meetings, which highlight their experience; actions to promote the responsible use of technology among young people, and resources, learning and good practices to support social organisations in their digital transformation.

In short, there are many ways to support the digital empowerment of people and Telefónica and its foundation aim to make the most of them to multiply their positive impact on society and thus contribute to social progress.


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