By the Editorial staff 

The Fastweb Digital Academy is a Sustainability project created by Fastweb and Fondazione Cariplo. The Academy, created at the end of 2016, as part of Cariplo Factory, aims to contribute to the growth of innovation and digital culture in Italian society through training courses for new digital professions.  Digital technology is changing our working environments, our lives, our behaviour and our ways of thinking, and doing so rapidly. To understand the speed of this transformation, one need only consider that the 10 most in-demand professions today did not exist 10 years ago and that half of all children in primary school now will be doing a job that does not exist today. What is certain, however, is that the digital sphere will be part of their daily lives. Unfortunately, if we look at the level of digitalisation in Europe, Italy ranks 25th out of 28 in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), and this risks holding back the development of the Italian economy and society. This is demonstrated by the paradox we are experiencing: on the one hand we have a high unemployment rate, especially among young women between 25 and 29, where the rate is 40%, and on the other hand we have many positions that remain unfilled due to a lack of appropriate skills. The mismatch between demand and supply when it comes to e-skills has doubled between 2015 and 2020: this means that half of all positions in the sector remain unfilled due to a lack of skills. 

Another defining theme is the gap between men and women, particularly when it comes to digital inclusion and workplace culture. According to Women in Digital 2020, only 16.2% of graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects in Italy are female, compared with 37.3% who are male. And the rest of the world does not fare any better: in Europe, although women represent 52% of the population, they hold 15% of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) related jobs. This explains why, from the UN to the European Union to the governments of individual countries, there is a proliferation of programmes designed to encourage girls to take up STEM subjects: we cannot afford to live in a world that is in desperate need of scientific and technological solutions yet excludes half the talent. 

The current challenge is therefore to create initiatives that develop digital skills, and the Fastweb Digital Academy was created for this purpose. Academy courses are all free of charge, and are aimed at high school and university students, young people looking for work, and professionals who want to expand their skills. The content of the courses ranges from digital marketing to programming languages, from digital design to soft skills, which are transversal and very important in all professions. 70% of the Academy’s students are women, demonstrating the need and desire on their part to seize new opportunities and acquire new STEM skills, which will be useful in facilitating entry into the world of work today and in the future. In order to meet this need, 99eLode was born, a project created in collaboration with the magazine iO Donna to create, for the most deserving recent graduates, a training and orientation path for the most in-demand digital professions. The two editions of 99eLode, one in person and one online, saw a total of 200 women between the ages of 22 and 27 participate. They had graduated with honours and were selected from among 2000 candidates from all over Italy. In January 2021, participants in the second edition experienced two intense weeks of online training for the digital professions that are in greatest demand on the job market: Big Data Analyst, Social Media Manager, UX/UI Designer, as well as more transversal courses, including Digital Writing and Personal Branding, Public Speaking, learning how to present videos and how to make effective presentations. Participants received useful advice on how to write their CVs and how to respond to a job offer, advice that they were able to put into practice by doing individual mock interviews with Fastweb and RCS Business Partners. 

Following these interviews, some were selected for internships at FDA, and others for a scholarship for an online Master’s degree in Social Media Communication at the Rcs Academy. The training course was enriched by moments when participants listened to the experiences of different role models who, by telling their personal and professional stories, were an inspiration to the young women. 99eLode spontaneously created a very active community on the Fastweb, Fastweb Digital Academy, Cariplo Factory and iODonna social media channels, where the young graduates shared their expectations, impressions of the course, and their enthusiasm about being part of it. 

Here is some of their feedback: 

Lorenza: “I would recommend it to everyone because it’s everything you don’t expect. It’s not only about acquiring skills in the digital world, but also about creating a community with other young women who have great projects in mind, and helping them to believe in them.” 

Bianca: “I wish everyone could take part, at least once in their life, in a stimulating and exciting initiative like this.” 

Mariangela: “Thanks to the 99elode course we are breaking down the barriers of our beliefs and developing a more flexible and innovative vision.” 

To date, Fastweb Digital Academy has already helped train over 10,200 people, an important result that underscores its social commitment to the community, which will be further strengthened, with the aim of reaching the goal of having 50,000 certified people throughout Italy by 2025.

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