Through the initiative - launched at ITU Telecom World, the ITU and Cisco will work with a network of institutions to run digital skills training programmes in specific tech areas.
The ITU says providing digital skills training is key to bridging the digital divide, and digital skills are needed at all levels - at the basic level, to help people connect and benefit from Internet services and applications; at the intermediate level, to help students and job seekers get the necessary skills required by the digital economy; and at the advanced level to increase the pool of ICT experts and meet the demands of the industry.
The initiative targets people who need basic digital skills to use digital tools and access e-services and those who seek to enhance their basic and intermediate skills – and it also targets entrepreneurs who want to develop their businesses, and assists policy-makers in the formulation and implementation of policies and programs related to digital skills, with the overall objective of enabling a successful national digital transformation process.
“We are proud to partner with Cisco to enhance digital literacy," says ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
“We call on governments, the private sector, development agencies, local communities and other stakeholders to help us advance this initiative. Join us to boost digital skills to facilitate the digital transformation journey and accelerate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals."
The Digital Transformation Centers Initiative builds on the existing collaboration between the ITU and Cisco.
"We are excited to partner with ITU on the Digital Transformation Center Initiative which will leverage the Cisco Networking Academy to prepare individuals with skills in technology as well as in entrepreneurial areas where project-based learning and design thinking are critical," says Laura Quintana, Vice President and General Manager of Cisco Networking Academy.
"Cisco's objective is to help countries transform digitally and accelerate economic growth, and the collaboration between Cisco and ITU will be key to providing the needed human capital to support that transformation."
To kick-start the initiative, ITU and Cisco will identify 10 Digital Transformation Centers to participate in the first phase, which will run for 18 months starting in January 2020 – with the centers selected located in the Americas, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions.
“Today half the world is online, but raw connectivity alone will not solve development challenges," says Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.
“Research shows that lack of digital knowledge and skills has emerged as a major barrier to Internet uptake, digital inclusion and digital transformation, especially in developing countries. The Digital Transformation Centers Initiative is designed to strengthen the effectiveness of current activities in the field of capacity development by providing training programmes to meet and address local needs, and address technology trends, developments and gaps. It is also a step forward to help our membership implement their regional initiatives in this field."