How a digitalised population can boost the growth of the local communities?

The growth of digital talent is becoming increasingly important for the economic development of regions and cities. A digitally trained population is more inclined to entrepreneurship, creative thinking, flexibility as well as more proactive and engaged in the well-being of the community. The main benefit certainly is the reduction of unemployment in those territories associated with a high level of digitization of people.

Digital transformation plays an essential role in feeding the European competitiveness vis-à-vis with other regions of the world or even other European areas where the digitization rates of the population are very high. In the communication entitled “Regional Policy that contributes to smart growth in Europe 2020”, the Commission (EC) stressed the central role of the regions to foster the growth’s potential of European territories through the digital economy. Local politics is therefore crucial to create local ecosystems towards the transformation of local businesses, digital organizations and public services into the digital environment.

Undoubtedly, the effects of digital transformation are not limited to a few sectors or industries: all economic sectors, even the most traditional ones, are involved by these changes. Accessibility to cloud storage systems, mobile applications or by the web, for example, can in fact easily create more innovative solutions for the most diverse sectors or activities.
Digital technologies are shortening distances by bringing global companies closer to local economies. Besides that, the benefits that can be achieved thanks to digitalisation are various: the activation of social services in the local areas, supporting the people with difficulties, the telemedicine initiative, the management, bringing support to collect and distribute leftover food, and much more. Let’s think of everything that has not yet been done and which will be implemented shortly to face the challenges that the post COVID-19 world puts in front of us. Regions and cities are the places where all this can happen and be experienced. Most start-ups are created in cities, where entrepreneurs and small businesses can find the opportunities, services and infrastructures they need to thrive.

To best exploit this phenomenon, we need people who are digitally educated and whose skills are various, whose, competences are wide, from the very basic till the highest and more specific ones. Currently, the market absorbs in a relatively short time all the ICT graduates from universities and education systems, emphasizing the need for cities and regions to actively encourage the development of local digital talent. Therefore, it is necessary to make significant efforts to encourage ICT education, building favorable infrastructures for the ICT sector development, support stronger cooperation between private and public sector as well as to facilitate access to the finance for innovative start-ups. Only by following this path, we might be quite confident that a given territory can benefit from digital transformation.

Many regions have already realized the importance of digital revolution as a key to competitiveness and economic growth, while a significant number of European regions and cities are still lagging behind in terms of digital transformation and not act like favorable ecosystems for innovation.
The EU should play its role of cohesion by addressing such a gap, and avoid in that way that the greatest development opportunity for its society becomes the greatest threat to its citizens’ future.