I would like to welcome this guest blog from Māra Jākobsone, chair of Telecentre Europe, to tell people about this year's Get Online Week.

Initiatives like this aim to empower everyone and raise Europe's "digital competence", by addressing the general lack of digital skills and the many thousands of unfilled ICT-related vacancies across all industry sectors.

Europeans need the right skills to take part in the digital economy and get the full benefits from the Digital Single Market that we are building.

It is not just about reading and writing any more. These days, in order to succeed and take off in a career, you need digital skills as a basic.

Get Online Week, and other events like it, are a great way to promote tech as a career. They are also about informing, encouraging and empowering people to do so – actively and directly. It aims primarily to help young and unemployed Europeans get the e-skills they need for the 21st century workplace.

Digital skills, and how to promote them more widely around Europe, will be strongly placed in the skills strategy that the European Commission will publish in May.

Welcome now to Māra Jākobsone with details of what GOW 2016 will bring.



Get Online Week 2016 - get empowered, get employed


Get Online Week 2016: helping every European to take full advantage of digital opportunities

By Māra Jākobsone

March is a time of year that brings not only the feeling of spring to Europe but also a boost in digital skills activities. Every spring since 2010, we have celebrated European Get Online Week (GOW).

This is a digital empowerment campaign that engages and empowers people to use technology and the internet with confidence, and allows them to make the most of a world of digital opportunities.

Supported by corporations, NGOs and public authorities, the campaign is organised by Telecentre Europe, a pan-European association that represents European networks of ICT learning centres.

Since it started, the Get Online Week campaign has reached more than 800,000 Europeans in more than 20,000 learning centres across Europe. Get Online Week is a part of the eSkills for Jobs campaign and directly contributes to the goals of the Digital Single Market Strategy and Grand Coalition for Digital jobs.

This year, the campaign is supported by Cisco, Liberty Global and Microsoft, raising its impact and allowing the campaign partners to use innovative tools and services in the events being held across Europe.

GOW started with the goal "Every European Digital".

It was more focused on getting people online and helping them to make their “first click“.

Thanks to our campaign, more than 100,000 people have used the internet for their very first time. At Telecentre Europe, we still keep that passion and promise - because, according to the latest data, there are still 100 million Europeans without digital skills. 

Seven years further on, we have progressed a great deal: supporting the development of digital skills at various levels, skills that are required for employment and entrepreneurship, teaching and learning, active digital citizenship and personal development.

GOW 2016 will run from 14 to 20 March in  27 countries involving 29 national partners. At least 4,000 local ICT learning centres will open their doors to more than 50,000 Europeans.

This year's GOW will focus on two main inter-connected themes.

The first is trust and confidence: addressing key policy initiatives under the Digital Single Market and making sure that Europe's consumers are protected as well as digitally smart.

The second theme is digital jobs: raising awareness, introducing young people and the unemployed to the relevant digital skills for employability and entrepreneurship. We will also address the digital skills of SMEs, which represent more than 95 % of all enterprises in the EU. Compared with larger companies, SMEs have a significant gap in digital skills and use of digital technologies.

The thousands of non-formal education providers will be busy organising various activities in their communities to reduce the skills gap and promote ICT jobs.

In Sweden, for example, by far the most common concern will be e-identity: how to apply for it, how to use it and for which services it is really safe.

In Italy, the 3-day RomeCUP event will feature 30 workshops and labs on educational robotics addressed at young people.

In Ireland, a programme for marginalised citizens with limited access to the internet and computers will invite people to learn how to use the internet safely.

In Poland, young people taking part in in the campaign will find out how to use social networks and other online services to build their professional image.

In the Czech Republic, digital literacy is promoted as a key tool for safer use of the internet; here, there will a focus on tools such as IT Fitness tests and e-learning courses.

I would like to share some positive experiences how Get Online week is organised in my own country, Latvia.

From the very beginning, it has been jointly led and coordinated by two partners: Latvian Information and Communication Association (LIKTA) and the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia.

This PPP allowed us to involve a couple of hundred partners from the ICT industry sector, public and academic sectors as well as NGOs. During GOW 2016, we have more than 750 public events held across Latvia for different audiences involving more than 20,000 participants.  Our particular focus is on ICT career promotion and coding activities for young people, digital skills for SMEs and people employed in various industry sectors. In Latvia, the digital security theme is addressed on different levels, starting from the high-level opening event and  policy discussion, practical workshops for ICT specialists and SMEs  and including awareness raising events in libraries and schools.

I am looking forward to great digital skills events this week: from the eSkills for Jobs 2016 high-level conference in the Hague and GOW launch in Amsterdam, to workshops in small rural telecentres and libraries in Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. From youth ICT career days in Estonia, Latvia, Spain and Greece, to eHealth trainings to seniors in Denmark and Sweden…

You can join our efforts at #GOW16 helping European citizens get online, work online, learn online and take full benefit from the opportunities of the Digital Single Market.

Māra Jākobsone

Chair Telecentre Europe, 

Vice-president LIKTA (Latvian Information and Communication Technology Association)

@tc_europe, @eprasmesLIKTA,@marajakobsone



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