ConnectEd Bridges the Digital Divide for Poor and Disadvantaged Youth

Next Generation Communications Blog

ConnectEd Bridges the Digital Divide for Poor and Disadvantaged Youth

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The role of information and communications technology (ICT) on education and employment prospects should not be understated.

Roughly 90 percent of all EU jobs will require some ICT skills in the near future, yet 39 percent of EU workers have little or no ICT skills as of 2014, according to the European Commission. In the U.S., the digital skills gap between what’s needed of employees and what’s available in the market comes at an estimated cost of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity, according to estimates from ICT-based employment is growing 7 times faster than overall employment in the EU, too.

The situation is even worse in developing countries, where ICT training is often lacking—especially for girls. While 77 percent of the population in developed countries is online, only 31 percent of people in developing countries have access according to ITU figures for 2013. And globally, women are 16 percent less likely than men to have Internet access.

Looking to help with this problem, Alcatel-Lucent and World Education developed the ConnectEd program, which helps disadvantaged youth achieve better learning outcomes, become better prepared for the world of work, and engage meaningfully in their communities. Between 2011 and 2015, the program provided training to 25,000 young people in Australia, Brazil, China, India, and Indonesia. Roughly 58 percent of those helped were girls, the group with the greatest need.

The ConnectEd program had a huge impact on the lives of the young people they helped. More than 90 percent of program participants passed ConnectEd digital skills training, and more than 95 percent of the in-school youth remained in school. In Indonesia, 21 ConnectEd students even broke the stereotypes against street children and entered university as a direct result of the program.

“In all countries, what comes out most strongly in terms of ConnectEd’s longer-term impact are the effects of having improved confidence,” noted Estelle Day in a recent blog post, the director of the ConnectEd program.

“It sounds such a small thing, but for excluded youth, it seems to be a key to unlocking their potential,” she added. “Disadvantaged youth, more than anything, need someone who believes in them, respects them, who identifies their strengths and helps build on them. And that is where, I believe, ConnectEd and the inputs of Alcatel-Lucent volunteers have had so much power.”

Most community giveback programs make a difference. But when it comes to helping disadvantages youth build ICT training, such programs can make a huge difference in the lives of those it helps. ConnectEd is one such program.

Related Articles to 'ConnectEd Bridges the Digital Divide for Poor and Disadvantaged Youth'

Featured Events