The Digital and Green Skills for a Circular Economy pilot program is a coordinated effort by the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, EURECAT (technology centre), and the County Council of Valles Occidental (Consell Comarcal del Vallès Occidental). The program is open to young people, under 30 years old, with a university or Higher Level Education Cycle degree, and unemployed at the time of the inscription to the course. There are no restrictions with regard to knowledge domains, which allows exploiting interdisciplinarity through the myriad of professional backgrounds in each group of participants.
The initiative aims at realizing the quadruple helix scheme by incorporating citizens as agents of change for digital and green transformation of productive sectors in their future jobs positions. To attain this goal a 340 face-to-face training program was designed building upon three main blocks:
- Green competences: it revolves around the concept of circular economy and the role of digital technologies in greener and more sustainable economic sectors.
- Transversal competences: focused on the personal development of participants, including aspects of team work, leadership, innovation management, etc.
- Entrepreneurship: aimed at stimulating curiosity and proactive spirit that trigger new ideas and opportunities even when part of an organizations (ie. Intrapreneurship).
The program participants are invited to design Digital and Green pilot ideas to be shared in an open innovation platform. The platform can be accessed by a selected group of stakeholders in the dynamic Catalan innovation ecosystem, formed by a multitude of public administrations, community-based initiatives, universities, research institutions, maker spaces and fab labs, and industrial associations. This has a twofold aim: stimulating job insertion for participants while strengthening localized, small-scale, circular and collaborative economies that can have a social and local impact on the immediate territory.
The Digital and Green Skills for a Circular Economy program contributed to train a new breed of professionals capable of endowing innovative processes with by-design green and sustainable principles
that benefit society and environment. This integrated approach to digital transformation for circular economy, personal competences and innovation spirit constitutes a unique approach for addressing challenges of youth employability and sustainability of productive sectors.
The pilot edition of the program proved the validity of the approach:
- Demand: all 25 posts covered. Participants were selected out of over 100 candidates.
- Diversity: group composition 32% women, and 68% men. 2 participants from migrant or foreign origin.
- Success rate: 19 out of 25 (76%) participants landed a job within six months after completing the program.
The sustainability of the program remains a challenge. The pilot edition was possible to public funding. Nonetheless, it is intention of the organizing entities to further develop and re-launch it as a self-sustainable program. Alignment to policy initiatives as the Digital Skills and Job Coalition will be critical aspect of the new design.