Acquiring coding skills is still a pending subject in 2022 despite the constant transformation of society due to digitization. The Internet and mobile devices are everyday tools for the majority of the population. In 2020, Spain accounted for more than 42 million internet users, of which 97.8% surfed the net using their smartphones.


Different levels of digital skills


Currently, basic tasks such as searching for information, carrying out transactions or communicating with public institutions or the private sector require a basic knowledge of information and communications technology (ICT). However, the European reference framework of digital skills for the population covers much more. From managing digital identity (intermediate level), to solving problems or using technology creatively (specialized level), through knowledge such as learning how to code (advanced level).

Francisco Vico, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Malaga, states that “only 1% of the Spanish population has notions of computer programming. And it must change: nowadays, coding is almost as important as reading and writing”. Vico is committed to a social model in which the population consumes technology and is capable of creating programs and applications.

With a vision focused on education, Vico developed the free programme Toolbox.Academy. This is an initiative for school population, so they learn computer programming. Toolbox.Academy has more than 24,300 registered students and has been implemented in almost 550 educational centers in Spain. Vico has also created Código Rural; a project that fights against depopulation and is aimed at vocational training and university graduates. The objective is to teach them computer programming and offer them digital methodologies and tools, so they can develop their professional careers in towns of less than 20,000 inhabitants.


A structural deficiency


Initiatives like the ones mentioned above emerge from the needs derived from digital transformation, but also from the shortcomings of both the educational and the business sectors. Despite projects such as Toolbox.Academy, Design & Technology is very scarce in Spanish schools. On the other hand, the level of digital skills in the business world is also far from desirable levels. A study carried out by Kantar consultancy in 2016 showed that 75% of Spanish companies were below the digital competence index. Given these data, it is imperative that workers receive digital training on a regular basis in their work environment. Only with a well-trained workforce is it possible to promote digital transformation in companies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitization processes, underlining its strengths. However, the shortcomings have also become visible; especially in the educational and business fields. Digitization must begin at an early age and requires updating for some of the adult population. Acquiring coding skills – learning computer language – is an essential aspect of digitization. Thus, in terms of digital skills, there is still a long way to go.


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