The Possibilities of the Regions to Create Jobs in the Digital Field

All the speakers at the seminar "Digitization at the Service of the Regions" highlighted the possibilities of the digital world to create jobs in the coming years. In the same opening, the Vice President Delegate for Infrastructure, Economy and Digital Scope of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, Juliette Jarry, put a lot of emphasis in this sense, highlighting how the region was working with all economic sectors in a digital bet that she said, "is strategic and structuring".

The seminar, sponsored by the International Association of Francophone Regions and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region, was part of the 2020 Annual Assembly of ORU-Fogar. And if it was dedicated to the possibilities of digitization and the regions, it was because, on next January, the region must inaugurate the "Campus Numérique", a university space dedicated to digitization and which is an essential part of the political program of the region and that of its president Laurent Wauquiez. With this campus, which initially will have 2000 students, but has a capacity for 5000, the region intends nothing more and nothing less than to create the European "Silicon Valley". President Wauquiez said: "With this campus, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes has a unique tool to become the first digital region in France and assert itself as the digital accelerator in Europe”. The seminar presented the digital proposal of the host region but counted on the participation of other regions with the most ambitious digital projects.

Insisting on the argument of the president of the region, Vice President Jarry explained how they were working with all economic sectors, but also with all levels of education to explain the digital possibilities. "We are," she said, "at a time when the economy is undergoing great changes and we must explain to young people that there are many professional options, if they have a good apprenticeship". Christophe Menanteau, director of the “Campus Numérique”, went further and said that a bet like the Campus was essential because, already now, there is a lack of qualified labor in this sector. "We need to quickly have professionals. The companies - he said - need them. Then, it is logical, that we have a public-private strategy that bets on the virtuous circle of Innovation-Transformation-Training". Sophie Rognon, Director of Infrastructure and Digital Economy, explained that the region was trying to bridge the gap between large and small companies, supporting them, for example, in online sales. And the campaign certainly caused great interest.

David Ferrer, General Secretary of Digital Policies of the Government of Catalonia, explained that - from the Catalan Government - the digital option was so clear that a regional Ministry of Digital Policies and Public Administrations was already created. He said that having, in Barcelona, events such as the Mobile World Congress or the Smart City Expo are great supporters of this Catalan commitment. He was in favor, in any case, of working in different areas, from the application of the 5D, to the internet of things, Artificial Intelligence, the management of Big Data, the Blockchain, the world of drones and the possibility of having satellites.

Leyre Madariaga, Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Information Society of the Basque Country said that, already in 2002, the Basque Government provided itself with a Plan Euskadi in the Information Society, because -already at that time- it was imperative to support the Basque industry and economic sectors. She explained the importance of training human capital in this area and highlighted that, in the public sphere, progress had been made especially in the provision of services in the health and justice sectors. It was explained that there had been interest in having, at a regional level, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which had allowed them to see that, in terms of digital infrastructures, the Basque Country could be placed in first place in a ranking of European countries, in fifth position as regards the development of digital in the public sphere, but in eighth position in relation to the digital skills of citizens. "We have been working," she concluded, "for 20 years. We have advanced a lot, but we still need to improve, both in the formation of human capital, as in the use of technology by citizens”.

Committed to Closing the Digital Divide

If Vice President Jarry's intervention marked the subsequent interventions in relation to the digital capacity to create jobs, ORU-Fogar's intervention also determined subsequent content. Abdessamad Sekkal, who pointed to Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes as a model to be taken into account, said that a major challenge of this new technological revolution - that regions must assume - was to close gaps. "It is not a question -only- of closing the north-south gap and that digitization would allow many territories to recover from their backwardness. It is also about avoiding the urban-rural gap, because if the connection does not reach all the territories, the rural environment will be left behind again". The also President of the Region of Rabat-Salé-Kénitra explained that the danger of technologies widening differences has already been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. "When schools have had to be closed, it has become very clear that children and young people from rural areas or peripheral neighborhoods could not take advantage of distance learning”.

All the interventions showed that the participating regions were already working to avert the danger pointed out by President Sekkal. The Vice President of the French region, Juliette Jarry, explained that the “Campus Numérique”, to begin with, was not to strengthen the capital, Lyon, but was involved with the entire territory and its entire economic structure. "The commitment to digital, she said, is in favor of the whole territory. We don't want to leave anyone behind".

David Ferrer, from the Government of Catalonia, explained that in 2023 all the Catalan municipalities will be connected with optical fiber, which bet in favor of digital infrastructures and in developing "intelligent" cities as nodes in the whole territory. If to reach the entire territory, the Catalan government had signed an agreement with municipal associations, the Basque Government, explained the director Leyre Madariaga, was doing so with the Provincial Councils.

Finally, the three participating regions explained the importance they are giving to work on cybersecurity.



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