Celebrating the European Year of Youth: Part Two

The aim of the European Year of Youth is to shine a light on the role that our future leaders play when it comes to building a better future.

#MeetandCode #DigitalSkills #DigitalImpact

For the next installment in our Celebrating the European Year of Youth series, we sat down with another two of our esteemed jury members, Anna Sienicka, Vice President of TechSoup Europe, Warsaw and Barbora Buhnova, Associate Professor and Vice-Dean at Masaryk University and Co-Founder and Governing Board Member of Czechitas, a non-profit organization aiming at making IT skills more accessible to youth and women. They discussed what more can be done to improve young people’s digital skills, why it’s so important and what they were inspired by at the 2021 events.

At Meet and Code, we share the same goal and vision which is why we provide funding to local non-profit organizations to host workshops across the continent to improve our young people’s digital skills and equip them for 21st-century jobs.

So, without further ado, here’s what our jury members had to say:
“Digital skills are the future basic literacy skills,” said Anna. “Coding and programming are becoming the lingua franca of the future generation and I was inspired by how relevant and practical the events were in terms of their alignment with the future job market.”  

She believes that the non-profits’ engagement in Meet and Code makes the digital movement more inclusive by allowing the event participants to meet their peers, collaborate and engage in digital activities all over Europe. “I am thrilled to see that the non-profit sector can support young people in learning new, relevant skills, while enhancing equality by reaching youth and children in small cities, towns, and villages. I also appreciate the fact that this year’s Meet and Code events have involved an even larger number of girls and women.”

Barbora loved the creativity and dedication of the organizing teams. “Clearly, many of the events must have been very hard to prepare, more so while facing the challenges of the pandemic.”

To further youth’s digital skills, Anna shared that Meet and Code will place greater focus on strengthening shared values and working together with partner organizations and local NPOs towards a brighter future. “In practice, this means providing more ongoing support to local NPOs working with digital skills programs, contributing to the boosting of basic digital and media literacy skills from an early age, and developing more advanced digital skills, including AI, which ideally will produce more digital specialists.”  
Last, but not least, she said that it is crucial to ensure that girls and young women are equally represented in digital studies and careers. 

Barbora added that this can be bolstered by the enormous number of resources available online, however, it can sometimes be overwhelming, and youth may not know where to start. “It would be great to help young people navigate these. This could be in the form of steps to find the right resource for digital education such as how to decide what kind of education works, how to find it, how to check its quality, and how to decide whether to continue with it or move to a different option, how to find answers if they get stuck on something, and how to find peers with whom they can learn.”

When it comes to why improving the youth’s digital skills is so important, Anna said that digital transformation has visibly altered our society. “However, until the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on education and youth seemed much more limited. The pandemic has demonstrated that having an education system that is fit for the digital age is essential. Digital skills programs for the youth, like Meet and Code, can have an enormous impact on preparing the new generation for the demands of the future job market that is already lacking in qualified IT professionals.”  

“Digital technology is the driving force behind innovation in all domains,” continued Barbora. “And, as we see a lot of traction among our youth towards a more considerate and sustainable future, we also want them to have the right tools to achieve it. Innovation via digital technology is such a tool.” We agree! This is exactly why our initiative was born. Keep an eye on our blog to find out how you can improve the digital skills of young people with Meet and Code 2022.