Nowadays the importance of digital skills is beyond all possible doubt. Since computer science began surrounding us, the number of these skills required by companies has increased dramatically. Recruiters use social media to look for candidates and people search jobs on job boards. Digital Networking has overcome traditional methods and NGO’s use it to promote their activity. Digitalization has changed every single aspect of our lives.
Governments are aware of this and have carried out programmes to develop digital skills among the population, but… what’s the current state of this situation? We interviewed Gabriel Brezoiu, General Manager of the Group of the European Youth for Change (GEYC) and asked him about his work helping young people develop their digital skills.
In his own words, GEYC is a Romanian established organisation active at European level. We are empowering young people to create a positive change in their community by taking advantage of the digital tools.
GEYC is part of PRISMA European Network. What organisations are part of the network? PRISMA European Network represents 10 organisations from 7 countries that understood the importance of new media technology for their work and are committed to improving the quality of their activities.
New Media Ambassadors is a training programme in the field of Media, PR and Communication with the aim to empower young people. In this training programme carried out by GEYC participants are trained in digital skills, but young people are nowadays digital natives, what does this programme offers to them?
Young people are born with a smartphone in their hands and seem to master easily the digital technology as they are part of the generation of digital natives. The reality is a bit different: although the devices they use are smart and able to perform complex functions, young people are able to use perhaps just 1% of them. Why? Because the education system is still ”old-school” and cannot keep up with the digital updates. This is why “New Media Ambassadors – NMA” programme managed to train them to use these technologies in a “learning by doing” approach: they have been given weekly tasks and then they have been assessed and given feedback. In the end of the programme, the most successful graduates are given “Magna cum laude” distinction.
Did you find any differences in digital literacy between countries?
From my point of view, Nordic countries of Europe are having a high level of digital literacy while southern states are a bit behind. However, European Union is implementing several programmes to reduce the digital gaps.
How can exchange programmes improve people’s employability?
Exchange programmes target some of the skills that are needed the most in order to enter the labour market: teamwork, leadership, communication in foreign languages, cultural diversity awareness, independent work style and time management. Through these projects, young people are more likely to adapt fast to the work environment and to produce results.
What digital skills are becoming an advantage for employability?
I think it depends on the sector, but basic office and searching skills are a main request for many types of jobs. Moreover, as in the Internet much information is a few clicks away, it becomes a key skill to be able to find the information that you need in a few seconds.
What are the main challenges of the future in the digital environment?
We think one of the main challenges is to understand and use the deeper functionalities of the platforms that we already use (for example social networks). Young people use social networks on a daily basis and are always connected, but still, most of them fail to use them for a professional purpose, to build their personal brand online.
How is GEYC going to support youth facing these challenges?
GEYC will continue its programmes to promote the professional use of social networks, by “learning by doing” and by inspiring young people to take more out of their digital environment. Recently, GEYC launched the strategic project “eSkills for Volunteers” (geyc.ro/eskills) with the support of the European Commission that aims to train the volunteers in the digital field.
Gabriel BREZOIU is a European trainer passionate about new media and focusing on supporting young professionals in reaching their potential. Gabriel is the General Manager of GEYC - a European youth NGO based in Romania and his motto is: “Get out the best of you”.