Women from underserved and marginalized communities made up 65 percent of 80 000 trainees in the first phase of ITU’s Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) Initiative. The Initiative, launched in September 2019, saw the ITU partner with technology conglomerate Cisco in nine countries to help strengthen the digital capacities of their citizens, particularly in underserved communities.
ITU has opened applications for the second phase of its DTC Initiative, aiming to close the persistent gap in digital skills worldwide. Interested eligible institutions can submit their applications by 31 August 2021.
“We want to leverage the momentum we gained in phase one, during which over 80 000 people from underserved and marginalized communities received digital skills training through nine DTCs. The popularity of this training has far exceeded what we anticipated, and greatly encourages us. Clearly, the pandemic has made everyone more aware of the need to be equipped with digital skills. ITU wants to expand the DTC network, but at a pace which will ensure that the quality of training is maintained,” said ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao.
In the first phase, DTCs were established in nine countries in Africa, Americas and Asia Pacific. The individuals who signed up for DTC courses received training in basic and intermediate digital skills.
“Closing the global digital divide is consistent with empowering people and communities, improving lives and livelihoods, and promoting sustainable development,” emphasized the Secretary-General. “Empowering people with essential digital skills is a key part of this – a challenge we are proud to tackle together with partners from the private sector.”
Doreen Bogdan Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau, said: “The pandemic underlined that digital skills are key to inclusion and leaving no one behind in today’s digital world. The lack of these skills is becoming the main barrier to digital participation, particularly in developing countries. ITU’s network of Digital Transformation Centres plays a crucial role in bridging the digital skills gap and ensuring that no one is left offline. That is why we are expanding the network to increase the number of DTCs globally. We are continuously engaging with new potential partners to collaborate with us in this Initiative.”
The second phase is open to applications from any eligible national institution that commits to being an active partner in the network.
Applying institutions must have the mandate, or the support of their national government, to foster digital capacity in their respective countries, as well as a proven track record in delivering digital skills training at basic and intermediate levels to local communities.
Selected DTCs become part of a global network that aims to accelerate digital uptake among citizens and boost the capacity of young entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to succeed in the digital economy.
Any proposed DTC requires a network of fully equipped physical training centres, along with sufficient resources to deliver digital skills training. Detailed criteria are available here.
The second phase of the DTC Initiative will commence operations from January 2022.
Going forward, more DTCs will be able to join the global network in order to reach a critical mass of people with digital skills training in countries and thus allow them to meaningfully participate in the digital economy.
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