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European Digital Job Fair in Madrid: Opening Speech by Carlos López Blanco

Ladies and gentlemen, I am delighted and proud to welcome this event here inDistrito Telefonica, in our company’s headquarters, here in Madrid.
I wanted first and foremost to thank theEuropean Commission and Digital Europe for putting together such an important event, to which Telefonica is very proud to be hosting.

During this morning’s session, key European and national public policy stakeholders are represented to discuss how Spain is preparing for the digital transformation and how concrete actions are undertaken to boost skills and employability. This debate will be followed by three keynote speakers, Victor Calvo- Sotelo, Secretary of State for Telecommunications, Juan Pablo Riesgo, Secretary of State for Employment, and the European Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society, Gunther Oettinger.

In parallel to this policy conference, the Digital Jobs fair will kick off and run throughout the day.
We are delighted to have 36 companies present on-site, and many more online (up to 54), showcasing the 555 young people and job seekers we have with us, and those online, the possibilities that the digital revolution offers, both in terms of employment opportunities and training possibilities.

Today is about going beyond the policy talk, it is about taking actual steps in order to bridge the digital skills gap, and enabling young people and job seekers to have the best opportunities that digital offers.
We are living in an unparalleled digital revolution for which the rules are not yet written, and nobody should be left behind in the opportunities that this revolution offers.

Europe is in danger of being left behind other regions of the world, like United States, in terms of investment in education and adaptation to the new digital skills. We need to take action to address this imbalance.
At a time when Europe faces massive unemployment, technology companies face a critical shortfall of talented ICT experts. This contradictory picture reveals a mismatch between the skills on offer and those in demand in today’s fast technology market.

The Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs is part of those great European initiatives, which aims at bringing all actors together, enabling collaboration in order to achieve the right level of digital skills, employability, matching the right people with the right jobs and enabling EU skilled ICT workers to fully benefit from the opportunities that the digital world brings us.
Telefonica has been a member and a supporter of the Grand Coalition from day 1, when the initiative was launched under former Vice President Neelie Kroes at the World Economic Forum in 2013. From this initial commitment, the Grand Coalition has become a game changer, with 56 pledging organisations, 13 national coalitions formed, making a real difference as evidenced by today. Tremendous results have been achieved, but now is the time to build on these achievements and do even more, and this is what Telefonica is doing today.

We have surpassed our original pledge to equip over 8.000 young people with digital skills, and I am delighted to announce our new pledge, building on the company’s programmes and in line with the company’s beliefs that the possibilities of digital should be opened to everyone.

The Company is committed to significantly increase the number of jobs created by projects related to our Open Future program in the coming years, and to speed up around 150 projects every year through the Wayra initiative and to support 400 initiatives in the crowdworking spaces, among other proposals.

Telefonica really believes we should focus on education as the seed of innovation, and therefore of the future growth. We believe in the digital economy and in education.

Every day we witness the amazing talent that can be found in young people. Telefonica is convinced that talented young generation of digital natives need to be incorporated in our company to be competitive in a dynamic sector like ours. During 2014 we have recruited a total of over 9.000 young people (under 30) throughout Telefonica Group, 3.5% more than the previous year.

In line with the promotion of young talent, our global scholarship program has incorporated 1,382 young people throughout 2014.
We believe that we must move towards the knowledge economy, and this must be done at all levels of education and in all sectors. Let me talk about Telefonica experience in this endeavour.

Telefónica empowers young people by fostering the right mindset and skills needed for the digital economy and helps them seize job opportunities in an ever-increasing digital world.
We support young people in every step of the digital worker lifecycle:

First, we foster the digital mindset and raise awareness of the potential of digital, through initiatives from Fundacion Telefonica or Educacion Digital like Lanzaderas de Empleo, like Desafio STEM, like Premio Escuelas Digitales or LocosXCiencia.
Just to mention one of them, in Lanzaderas de Empleo a group of 20 young people looking for a job get together with a coach to work on increasing their employability opportunities together. For 5 months they work in a collaborative way with the coach, Telefonica experts and external experts in enhancing their curriculum, training on how to conduct a job interview, identifying the most suitable companies in the city or town to approach for a job, learning communication skills, creativity, resilience, etc.

Then, we also empower young people with key digital skills, through initiatives like “STEM by me”, the hackathons called “Todos Incluidos”, both of them run by our Foundation. Our programmes also give young people the soft skills they need for entrepreneurship, including creativity, or teamwork, and this is achieved through initiatives like Think Big or Talentum Schools.

We also increase their employability and help young people in their quest for a job, and this is done throughout everything our Human Resources department do in the field of Talentum, and also the Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN). Talentum is based on a simple idea – betting on young people and technology as the future of Europe. Talentum does this by creating job and digital learning opportunities for thousands of young people and university graduates. Talentum has a number of elements: a start-up stream which matches the best young digital talent from Europe’s best universities to Wayra start-up businesses; recruitment of thousands of talented young apprentices, interns and graduates into jobs in Telefónica; and programmes to teach younger children (4-12 years) digital skills for the future.

And last, we support and encourage entrepreneurship and provide funding. At Telefonica, we are passionate about driving digital innovation, helping entrepreneurs get started and grow. We do this through all our departments, but especially thanks to initiatives like Talentum Start Ups and our Open Future offering, including through Wayra, our start up incubator, our Crowdworking Spaces, or via joint funding programmes like Amerigo, Telefonica Ventures, or CIP.

Allow me to tell you a little more about these initiatives:

Open Future aims to tackle the problem that although the European start-up ecosystem is a healthy one and has increased in size tremendously over the last few years, the mature investment opportunities are seized by non-European investors. So although foreign investment is a sign of strength in any economy, we must admit that Europe capital is losing a massive opportunity in the Venture Capital arena with a mere representation of 15% of global VC activity – in comparison to the US’ 68%.

Telefonica Open Future is offering the opportunity to European start-ups to not only accelerate their innovative business plans, but also mature them. This allows there to be a public and private collaboration in the Venture Capital scene, as opposed to being led by Government agencies, which is what currently happens for funds sized under €50m.

With a portfolio of more than 600 startups and offices in 17 countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia, Telefonica Open Future helps turn innovative ideas into successful businesses. Open Future has invested in projects, start-ups and companies that have generated more than 7,000 direct and indirect jobs in the world, including more than 6,000 in Europe. Startups invested by Wayra have generated more than 2,500 direct jobs worldwide, of which more than 1,200 direct jobs in Europe and more than 500 direct jobs in Spain.

The second program, Talentum Startups is an open innovation Telefonica initiative whose main foundations are young talent, technology and entrepreneurship. The project offers internships for young tech students to work on start-ups. It started its activities in 2012 and so far has seen the participation of over 700 students, more than 300 start-ups involved and 23 collaborating universities.

Talentum Startups is a programme for the best. For university students who pass a demanding selection process carried out by first-level professionals. Participants come from all regions in Spain, with over 20 different locations where the project has been implemented so far. The programme is currently expanding its activities to other European countries as well. It is an open innovation programme that benefits from the collaboration of over 50 institutions and public and private corporations: incubators, universities, foundations, businesses, public bodies, etc.

All this is part of our commitment to the Digital Life and the Digital Economy. Let me finish my intervention announcing that Telefónica is working in more than thirty countries to study the digital infrastructure, the access to it, and the relationship with the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The links between these variables and how they contribute to the development of the digital economy is the focus on the Telefónica Digital Life Index (TIDL), a report which we will present shortly, in February 2016.

The Index, which is the culmination of a year’s work, uniquely explores the balance of the digital socio-economic components within a given economy. These components are Access, Openness, Confidence and Entrepreneurship.

The Telefonica Index on Digital Life is intended to provide a compass or roadmap for global policy makers to better balance the socio-economic components of digital society. This commitment is fuelled by the knowledge that a more balanced digital socio-economic country will better help its citizens navigate their lives.

Why is this important? Because Telefonica believes that technology should be open to everyone and strives to make that a global reality.

All these initiatives are showcased in the Telefonica stand in the job village, just next door, where I invite you to have a look at some point during the day.

I am looking forward to a great day, matching young talent with great opportunities across Europe.

Thank you

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Lourdes Tejedor / @madrid2day

Carlos López Blanco / @clopezbl

Director General de Asuntos Públicos y Regulación de Telefónica.