Yesterday I've visited an event organized by the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria which officially marked the launch of a digital national alliance in Bulgaria. This is part of an initiative of the European Commission, called Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, which aims to address the lack of sufficient amount and quality professionals in Europe working in the field of Information and Communication technologies.
The first part was few short keynotes, including one from deputy prime minister and memorandum signing and group photo. In the keynotes (and afterwards) the stress was on the lack of relevant ICT skills and the need of an estimated 1 million digital workers by 2020 in EU alone.
The next two sessions were panel discussions. The first one presenting the local chapter of the Digital Coalition in Bulgaria.
The goals of the coalition are to:
- help more people master more digital skills (not only as developers but also proper usage of social media, how to create content, etc)
- enable more people to choose digital jobs
- help local talents present themselves on the global scene
How it (is supposed to) works:
- initiate own ideas and propose them for implementation (to the ICT industry and broad public I guess)
- stimulate learning through doing, learning by example using real use cases
- help (and possibly sponsor) outside projects and ideas
Then the various companies supporting the coalition pledged how they are going to help. The most interesting news from this panel was the announcement of a new HP data center in Sofia which will be used as a training lab with access available to students.
The second panel was about education and how to bridge the gap! The interesting points were:
- Ministry of Education and Science admits they have finally realized that our educational system and programs are behind current tendencies and need concrete steps in order to boost education and science research;
- Samsung will open their innovation lab at Sofia University to outside students as well;
- We need to pay more attention to content and training of teachers because they also have a skills gap while young children do not;
I particularly liked what Prof. Petar Kenderov from the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences said - in the outside world children are constantly sharing and communicating with each other while at school (also to some extent in universities) they are expected to not communicate, not share and keep quiet. He emphasized the value of learning through experimentation vs. learning through reading and writing, e.g. the current way things work and the old way of teaching.
Another thing that was obvious was that otherwise competing companies (e.g. Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, VMware) were working together to fix some of the problems mentioned. However I'm a bit skeptical that large multi-national companies will be flexible enough to make a positive change. I'd bet on the independent organizations like HackBulgaria and Svetlin Nakov's Software University or initiatives by local Bulgarian companies like the already proven Telerik Academy.
Here's the entire program of the event, for anyone interested:
“EVOLVE DIGITAL” 10th June 2014 (Tuesday)
10:00 – 10:10 Opening: Gergana Passy, Digital Champion Bulgaria
10:10 – 10:20 Daniela Bobeva, Deputy Prime-Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria
10:20 – 10:30 Constantijn van Oranje, Head of Cabinet of Vice-President of EC Neelie Kroes
10:30 – 10:40 Jonathan Murray, Director, Digital Europe Special guest: Sandi Češko, Founder & President, Studio Moderna
10:40 – 10:50 Memorandum Signing and Group Photo
10:50 – 11:00 Pause
11:00 – 12:15 Digital Coalition Bulgaria Moderator: Boyan Benev, Founder, Forward.li Rennie Popcheva, CEO, Digital Coalition Bulgaria Boyko Iaramov, Co-founder & Chief Process Officer, Telerik Marta Poslad, Senior Policy Advisor, CEE Google Petar Ivanov, General Manager, Microsoft Bulgaria Iravan Hira, General Manager, Hewlett-Packard Bulgaria Atanas Dobrev, CEO, VIVACOM Danny Gooris, Senior Manager, Oracle Academy Dimitar Dimitrov, Relationship Business Development, Lenovo Stamen Kochkov, Vice-president, SAP Labs Bulgaria, Chairman of BASSCOM
12:15 – 12:30 Coffee Break
12:30 – 13:45 Education in the Digital Era Moderator: Boyan Benev, Founder, Forward.li Ivan Krastev, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education and Science, Republic of Bulgaria George Stoytchev, Executive Director, Open Society Institute Sofia Sabina Stirb, Public Affairs & Corporate Citizenship Manager, Samsung Prof. Petar Kenderov, Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Dr. George Sharkov, Director, European Software Institute - Center Eastern Europe Elena Marinova, President, Musala Soft, Chair of the Educational Commission, Bulgarian Association of Information Technologies Svetlin Nakov, Founder, Software University
13:45 – Lunch in Restaurant “At the Eagles” 11 Dyakon Ygnatiy str., in the building of Ministry of transport, 18th Floor