Bridges not gaps – Digitization creates, not destroys

According to the UN without decisive action by the international community, the digital divide will become “the new face of inequality”.

And it is actually happening right now. Almost half of the world’s population, 3.7 billion people, the majority of them women, and most in developing countries, are still offline.

This might be relevant to the situation in Bulgaria also. When we speak about generation gap there are too many people over the age of 65 who are digitally illiterate. There are also a lot of young people who have smartphones, use Instagram and Tiktok, but they can’t pay their taxes online, they don’t know how to use basic software or how to shop in the supermarket, using the machines without cashiers.

Of course,some people prefer to live offline and we can say that nowadays this is a luxury that not everyone can afford. The irony here is that even if you want to be offline, you can only do so with the necessary digital skills … and maybe not for a very long period of time

The world is changing really fast and many gaps are becoming more and more visible. Today poverty and offline are synonyms. This is why we need to do our best to overcome these contemporary challengesas a community.

A few industries have become highly digitized over the past decade, the analysis found. In particular, information and communications technology (ICT), media, professional services, and financial services companies are at the forefront of the digital revolution.

But that’s not all. The building sector such as the agriculture sector are becoming more and more digital which means that people working in these fields need to gain new skills and knowledge how to use artificial intelligence in their daily work.

The Covid-19 pandemic speedеdup all those processes and many jobs already disappeared. That includes clerical, sales, and production jobs. It showed us that we can’t live offline anymore.

This is why it is extremely important for young people who are neither employed nor educated to participate in different courses and trainings on digital skills. These are usually youngsters who live in the countryside and who are brave enough to seek their personal development far from the big city. This is a representation of the modern young person, who wants to work from everywhere, who wants to live in a quiet nice place and who wants to stay part of his local community. Projects as RAISE Youth are crucial for these young people.

The RAISE Youth project provided different trainings on e-shop development, entrepreneurship, mobile tourist application development, creation of a chat-bot with AI. Many young people participated in them and some even established their own local companies through which they will empower their peers from the region.

Travel websites, alternative tourism services, new generation agriculture, are key to the development of young people as well as the regions of the province as a whole. We already have successful examples of young people gaining not only the skills but also the confidence to enter the wilds of the digital realm, artificial intelligence and make improvements to the living environment in their homes, thus involving their parents, grandparents to digitization.

I will tell you one secret as a young person also – Offline is the new sexy – believe me. We also want sometimes to stay away from the speed and the noise of digitalization, but it is already impossible, that’s why we are looking for bridges between the past, the village life and today’s modern world. This is a gap which we need to overcome as soon as possible, because we belong to these 2 totally different worlds and neither of them will be enough for us to feel realised

The RAISE Youth project is coming to an end after 3,5 years of hard work, hundreds of meetings, met hopes, increased skills and motivation, digital journeys, youthful smiles and fulfilled dreams. And it connected these 2 worlds which we are talking about. This project managed to sow the seeds of change in a small country town and unleashed the potential of an entire region. Thanks to RAISE Youth, many gaps were overcome – digital, generational, regional.

Through a series of educational courses, bridges were built between the analog and digital worlds, between the old and the new, between poverty and prosperity, between idleness and activity, between stasis and demand.

The development of a number of young people and a number of processes was started, and the best is yet to come!There is one more precondition – the “old fashion” representatives of local authorities to step back and give the chance to youngest to start managing their common future!


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