Latvian Information and Communications Technology Association (LIKTA) in cooperation with the University of Latvia, partners in Estonia and Lithuania, and with the financial support of the Microsoft Philanthropies program, has been implementing Digital Skills Development Program in all three Baltic countries. After the great success of the LIKTA’s last year’s project “The Virtual Internships in the Baltic”, we are proud to announce that this organization, with the support of Microsoft, will continue its Digital Skills Development program during 2023 as well.
The main goal of this project has been to provide up-to-date digital skills and hands-on experience to people in all three countries – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and to reach out to different audiences. This program’s participants were mostly unemployed, disadvantaged groups, young parents on parental leave, people who want to change their career path, and students. The project has offered free training courses in English, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian on various ICT topics. Over the training series people in the Baltics have learned how to use business and data analysis, how to develop programs and apps for desktop and mobile phones in courses on Low-code/No-code platform fundamentals, the basics of Python programming, and how to work with a Microsoft 365 account.
“Collaboration with Microsoft has helped us to achieve great goals. In the time period from June 2021 till the end of the year 2022, more than 12,000 people from all Baltic countries had the opportunity to develop their digital skills and knowledge in up-to-date courses and more than 4,300 of them participated in virtual internships. With the support of Microsoft we will offer new opportunities this year in training and internships in Artificial Intelligence, Python programming, Data analysis, and visualization tool Power BI”, Signe Balina, LIKTA president, said.
The aim was to help participants apply new skills and test their knowledge in the business environment. All participants were given the opportunity to learn business, data analysis, software development and a wide variety of unexplored possibilities of Microsoft Excel which they utilized in a provided company, applying a learning-by-doing approach.
„Countries in which people have deeper levels of ‘everyday’ digital skills, and actively use different digital technology and services have a better score on key quality-of-life indicators”, said Vaida Sapole, Microsoft Country Manager for the Baltics. „People in these countries have proven to be more productive and earn more. And as Microsoft Digital Futures Index show, digital development drives innovations that help the economy grow by creating new and better jobs.”
The continuation of the program will further LIKTA’s mission – to foster digital skills development and digital transformation. The new 9-month phase of the virtual internships started in March, and it offers new courses on Artificial Intelligence. Virtual Internships in the Baltics will begin with an Artificial Intelligence course for beginners in local languages and English, followed by an Artificial Intelligence course for specialists. LIKTA will also continue providing Power BI (Business and Data Analysis) and Python programming courses.
Why are upskilling and reskilling so important these days? According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as the adoption of technology increases. By upskilling and reskilling existing employees, organizations invest in the long-term retention of their staff and get ready for fast-changing digitalization in markets. Businesses must make sure their employees are skilled in using new technologies to remain competitive. This program will also help those who are in search of jobs to raise their qualifications and competitiveness in the market, it will allow students, unqualified workers, and people with no work experience to gain digital skills as most companies leverage digital solutions in their operations.
This project helped to establish significant cooperation between universities, government institutions, employment agencies, Chambers of Industry, NGOs, etc. LIKTA has strong ties to NGOs working with refugees during the Ukraine refugee crisis, and the University of Latvia has established collaboration with the Embassy of Ukraine in Latvia and the Ministry of Education. The courses and upskilling for refugees from Ukraine are of great importance and will increase their chances of having a better-qualified job and better income.