Students learning digital skills

Digital skills development must keep evolving

Dr Cosmas Luckyson Zavazava, Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU

Before I became the Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), I spent some of my career as an educator.

Almost 20 years ago to the day, I began giving lectures to MBA students at Nottingham Trent University in the UK. This included a class on Information Systems, a wide field of study that bridges business and computer science.

A lot has changed since then, but I still remember the joy of watching my students learn, develop and grow their skills. That is why one of my priorities as BDT Director is bridging the digital skills gap, particularly in developing countries.

Today, two-thirds of the global population, or 5.3 billion people, are online. As we work to connect the remaining 2.7 billion people, the physical infrastructure for connectivity forms only part of the picture.

Without the necessary digital skills, people are unable to fully unlock the benefits of today’s technology.

With the rapid and accelerating pace of technology evolution, training and capacity building must be constantly developed and improved to ensure that citizens, as well as information and communication technology (ICT) professionals, have the right skills and qualifications to make effective use of today’s digital tools.

ITU Academy Training Centres

We at ITU are already working actively around the world to bridge the digital skills gap.

The newly launched ITU Academy Training Centres (ATC) programme – an evolution of the earlier ITU Centres of Excellence (CoEs) programme – will drive our impact even further.

The designated Centres – hosted by rigorously selected partner organizations – provide a vital means to strengthen delivery of high-quality telecommunication/ICT training and strengthen institutional capacity in countries and regions around the globe. Courses will be delivered online through ITU’s e-learning platform, the ITU Academy.

The training people gain through the ATC programme will enable them to expand their knowledge, develop skills, and harness the benefits of digital technologies.

The ITU Academy offers over 150 training courses to thousands of ICT professionals every year, nearly 70 per cent of whom are from developing countries.

We have selected organizations from around the world to join us on the ATC journey. Some were previously engaged in the CoE programme, too.

Promoting digital skills development and digital training programmes is key to ensuring inclusive and secure telecommunications/ICTs for sustainable development – one of the core priorities for the ITU Development Sector, as outlined in the Kigali Action Plan.

Why skills development matters

What we do today can give children the skills to stay safe and secure online, help nations to develop national ICT Household surveys to advance digital development, provide mentorship to women who wish to advance their careers in the cybersecurity field, and strengthen digital capacities of citizens around the world.

I invite you to read some of our impact stories here.

But these are just a handful of the many capacity-development activities by BDT, as ITU’s crucial digital development arm, to boost skills around the world.

Our ongoing digital development work aims to build a society where all people can use knowledge and skills on digital technologies to improve their livelihoods. With the new ATC programme, I know that this is a reality we can achieve.

I already look forward to hearing about the progress of our newly announced ATCs at the Global Digital Skills Forum, which will take place at the end of this year.

Learn more about the first ITU Academy Training Centres.

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