You may be tempted to believe that the next generation of our digitally native Gen-Z-bred workforce is already equipped with all the digital skills they’ll ever need. That’s not always the case, though.

Despite their hunger to learn, a significant amount of young people lack access to digital training, devices, and Wifi. For those with access, mastering social media promotion is still not enough. Our modern workplace also requires an understanding of project management, analysis and presentation skills.

The Digital For Youth (Enactus Programme), started by a group of University College Dublin students, is working hard to address this digital skills gap and aim to stave off unemployment by equipping students early on in life.

Playing Catch-Up with the EU in Digital Learning

Ireland currently ranks in the bottom ten countries of the European Union in terms of Digital Skills, in an economy where 9 out of 10 jobs require Digital Competency. According to the EU Digital Economy and Society Index 2018, half of Irish adults risk exclusion from the workforce because they don’t have sufficient digital skills (Source: Independent.ie).

In June 2020, an analysis by the CEDEFOP’s European Skills for Jobs Survey (ESJ Survey) revealed the share of people with low educational attainment or low skilled occupations who reported needing ICT skills (any level) to do their jobs is considerably greater than their EU counterparts.

So how do we avoid the growing gap between a generational cognitive elite and those with no access to relevant digital skills?

Practical Digital Skills for The Real World

Digital for Youth wants to be a part of a working solution. The programme aims to equip students in their transition year with digital skills to build their confidence in carving out a path for themselves.

They provide social media marketing workshops, fostering the primary digital marketing competencies and presentation skills needed to help students prepare for working life.

Aditi Mittal, Head of Partnerships at Digital for Youth at UCD and Teaching Volunteer, reveals the practical approach taken:

“I have been teaching Digital Innovation & Creativity modules to students where I try to push students to think outside the box by asking them to work on simple problems which have simple solutions. I set up the base by teaching them about various business models, strategies that businesses use to scale, problem-solving techniques. At the end of the module, students are asked to prepare an interactive presentation on their respective business ideas.”

Students also get to impact Irish businesses by taking part in a group case study at the end of the module, where they apply skills learnt throughout the programme.

Successful participants have begun to pay it forward, helping charities with their social media presence and engaging more people in turn.

Teaching a module online

A Rewarding Experience For All

This is made possible by volunteer instructors who gain valuable experience, a new skill set and a special connection to their community. The programme’s missionary zeal is driven by a culture of entrepreneurial, values-driven social innovators who form the global Enactus community.

“Looking at the students being innovative and producing unique ideas inspires me. Having delivered more than eight workshops and taught 45+ students, the experience has been wonderful and fulfilling. As an international student, I have gotten to learn about the culture of Ireland through these classes.” says Aditi.

A Transition Year Project Ready To Roll-Out

The award-winning programme is now ready to scale nationally, having run projects with Santa Sabina Dominican College, St Benildus College Secondary School and Portlaoise College.

Trainers meet to discuss module plans

The total cost per student is only €20 for students from Private and Public schools. The programme takes full responsibility for module delivery, including marketing to students. Classes will also be delivered free of cost for DEIS schools.

Upon completion, each student will be awarded accreditation that covers essential digital marketing, design, presentation skills, analytics and client management.

It has gained a positive response so far with Ann Fitzpatrick, Transition year Coordinator at St. Benildus College, saying: “The ‘Digital for Youth’ programme is an innovative, well organised, and practical initiative that offers a unique experience to TY students. They are given the opportunity to work with experts in their field and gain insight into the business world. They also learn how to work in groups effectively, plan and execute a marketing strategy and produce creative ideas. I received very positive feedback from both students and parents.”

How to Sign Up:

Digital For Youth is looking for volunteers and secondary schools that want to provide this opportunity to transition year students. To find out more, visit www.digitalforyouth.com or contact the programme via digitalforyouth [at] gmail.com, +353833759309 or UCD Michael Smurfit Business School, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

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Elis Bul-Godley

Elish loves city life and is part of the Content Plan Agency, helping businesses and brands with content. She also lectures at UCD and provides training/mentoring for Local Enterprise upskilling programmes.