Monday, March 3, 2008

What motivates seniors and pensioners to become basic e-skills savy?

Although a bit outside of our employability focus, it is worth discussing the factors that motivate seniors and pensioners to learn basic e-skills in the Podlasie region of Poland. Under the e-inclusion framework of the European Union, the promotion of active aging and social inclusion of seniors and retired pensioners is one of the building blocks behind the effort towards building an inclusive European information society.

As I discussed previously, the e-skills training program provided by the Institute for Responsible Business definitely contributes towards this goal. Something worth noticing is that the motivations for the beneficiaries we interviewed are not only relevant for Poland but must surely they apply to other countries of the region, specially the newly EU members. Since accession to the EU, countries in Eastern Europe are facing a massive migration of workers primarily to UK, Belgium, and Ireland. This is particularly true in Poland and Latvia (I wonder if my college Mark West is finding the same in Bulgaria, Romania, and the Czech Republic where he is doing research)

This migration is damaging local economies (many of the people migrating are highly-skilled workers), and separating families; specially in regions like Podlasie where the family is the center around which the whole society revolves. For seniors and older people fighting the feeling of social isolation and separation from their families, learning basic e-skills, is not only a need but a question of survival. During our group interviews with the trainees at the RBI digital literacy training, almost all of them said that one of the biggest contribution of the training program was precisely the possibility of communicating with their sons, daughters, and grandchildren living abroad. In the trainees themselves own words: "We are learning how to be alive, how to feel useful in this fast-changing world. We are learning how to be relevant within our family, how to be humans"

Powerful and inspiring words... worth sharing

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