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Telefonica unveils plan to close European digital skills gap


Tim Ferguson

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Telefonica has outlined a number of targets to help tackle unemployment and close the digital skills gap in Europe by 2015.

The strategy includes a pledge to create more than 1,000 start-up companies through its Wayra academy scheme and create a Think Big community of more than 300,000 young entrepreneurs.

In addition, the company aims to enrol 50,000 students in its Think Big School programme to teach digital literacy such as coding and robotics and move 5,000 young people and graduates into the workplace via its Talentum initiative.

Telefonica has also joined the ‘Grand Coalition’ spearheaded by EC Commissioner Neelie Kroes, aimed at boosting digital skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe.

The final element of Telefonica’s efforts is to bring technology festival Campus Party Europe to London in September where more than 10,000 young people will share digital skills and innovation and encourage entrepreneurship.

Telefonica chief operating officer José María Álvarez-Pallete said that despite the move to a knowledge-based and innovation-driven economy, the skills shortage is holding back growth, competitiveness, innovation and employment in Europe.

“We believe the technology industry can and should play a part in addressing issues in the society in which they operate. In Europe, Telefónica is promoting a spirit of entrepreneurialism particularly among young people to contribute to a positive change in the region,” Álvarez-Pallete said.

“The private sector has a critical role to play and we will be working actively to build a real momentum across Europe,” he added.

In the past year, Telefonica has launched five start-up academies in Europe, and provided incubation and support for more than 60 digital start-ups. It has also started a digital skills teaching programme which has so far worked with 1,000 young people.

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