If digital connectivity is analyzed, Spain is one of the countries with the highest percentage of Internet users. A reality that, however, does not translate into a similar domain of digital skills by the workforce, since only 41% of Spaniards have advanced digital skills (five points more than in 2019), according to the report Digital society in Spain 2020-2021, of Fundación Telefónica. A fact that is especially relevant in the current context: factors such as teleworking and the increase in digital communications due to covid-19 have caused almost a third of the productive fabric to use some type of cloud service (especially among larger companies).
But what is the situation in Spain? Despite the fact that, according to a study by the European Commission, nine out of 10 jobs in Europe will require some type of digital competence, Spanish graduates in this field only represent 3.9% of the total, according to data from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). “The pandemic has emphasized the need to increase the digital profiles of the workforce. Among those most in demand are web development positions, due to their great versatility; (…) Data analysis profiles, due to the need for companies to analyze and represent data that allow them to better understand their customers. And also in cybersecurity, because it is urgent to find a solution to the impacts that cybercrime generates on the population and on companies, ”says Tiago Santos, head of the Ironhack campuses in Madrid and Barcelona. “If we want to reactivate the economy after the crisis, it is essential to strengthen this aspect.”
A digital future in all areas
Banking, tourism, education, mobility, entertainment … If the pandemic has made something clear, it is that this digital transformation is permeating all productive sectors, and has even permeated areas that were not digital in themselves, such as construction, health or agriculture, becoming an essential ally of entrepreneurship: “The founders of startups We are looking for scalable business models to grow fast and be competitive in a global world ”, explains Nacho Mas, CEO of Startup Valencia. “Innovation will be another key, so the professional profiles that are capable of generating an impact on society with new business models based on exponential technologies will have a clear advantage over the rest,” adds Juan Luis Moreno, Chief Innovation Officer in the digital ecosystem The Valley.
Therefore, accessing the labor market through the technology sector is presented as a highly attractive option for younger professionals, especially when the youth unemployment rate in Spain, which was 31% before the pandemic, has reached already 42%, the highest in the entire OECD. The development of digital skills is also maintained as a necessary updating mechanism for the rest of the workers, since, despite the demand, there continues to be a clear deficit of this type of technological profiles: according to an analysis by the VASS Foundation and the Autonomous University of Madrid published last June, each year about 3,600 vacancies are not filled due to lack of the necessary digital skills, in addition to causing the loss of activity for a value close to 315 million euros per year, only in the field of digital services. “Companies need profiles that help them focus their business strategies towards a digital environment; an environment that does not stop evolving and that demands constant and updated training ”, explains Moreno.
To the problems derived from the lack of these specialized profiles, the economic factor is added, since 30% of young people abandon their studies pressured by the need to work and earn an income or due to the impossibility of paying for them, according to data from the Observatory of Youth in Ibero-America of the SM Foundation. However, in Spain there are numerous programs that facilitate training in digital skills, either through free initiatives, scholarships or financing facilities so that personal situation or economic precariousness do not pose an insurmountable obstacle.
And what about wages? “These depend on various factors, among which are the student’s history and previous experience,” says Santos. “Some choose to make a bootcamp instead of a FP or a university degree, and they are prepared to assume the functions of a junior professional in the technological world, where their salary, depending on the region and the company, can be between 18,000 and 24,000 euros ”. And, of course, there are also those who take them as a way to enhance their career and achieve a short-term salary and professional improvement.
Training accessible to all
The bootcamps they are intensive training programs. At Ironhack, for example, they can be done full-time, in just nine weeks, or part-time, for 24 weeks, and the price is around 7,500 euros on average. So that the cost does not become a barrier, they have implemented the payment system for success, in three modalities: Deferred payment, in which 15% of the cost is paid at the beginning, and the rest in fixed installments when enjoy a minimum salary of 1,333 euros gross per month or eight months have passed since graduation; the Shared Income Agreement, with no initial cost and in which you start paying only when you have a salary of at least 18,000 euros per year, paying 12% of the payroll for four years; and the Circular Plan, with small monthly installments without interest and in which the money is allocated entirely to the training of new students.
The Valley, on the other hand, has launched its Next Generation Plan, a program of social scholarships with up to 100% financing and an investment of more than half a million euros, to promote the employability of vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, the youngest or those over 50, in addition to promoting the offer of technological profiles or the leadership profile of women in the digital field. In addition, it offers different possibilities to finance the cost of studies in 24, 36 or 48 months and without interest, as well as different measures of financial aid and flexibility adapted to each student, taking into account factors such as job loss, health problems or difficulties to reconcile.
It should not be forgotten either that there are other free training possibilities available on the Internet, such as Microsoft Learn, which continues to offer a wide range of courses to develop digital skills for free, or from MOOC platforms such as edX, Miríadax or Coursera. The Connect Employment program, from Fundación Telefónica, offers more than 20 free online courses focused on today’s digital professions, from web developer to cybersecurity expert, digital marketing or data architect. And to train as programmers, the Campus 42 presents a disruptive and free model organized in 21 levels, where students learn through challenges that they solve collaboratively, without teachers (but with a pedagogical team that guides them), without schedules, without age limits and without the need to have knowledge previous. The selection process, yes, is extremely demanding: but with dedication, commitment and talent, anything is possible.
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