How to bridge the digital divide in Spain?
Despite all the technological advances and advantages that this offers, digitalisation is not happening equally all over the world. In this post we inform you about the actions that are being taken to reduce the digital divide in Spain.
Society's continuous need to be informed and the advancement of technologies have made digitalisation key to our lives. This implies a profound transformation in our society, in which the acquisition of digital competencies and the ability to connect to the internet are increasingly necessary.
However, this digital transformation does not affect all people or regions of the world equally. Age, gender, level of education or territory are aspects that can condition our interaction with the digital world.
Spain has several advantages in terms of the overall process of the country’s digitalisation. In fact, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index 2021 (DESI), an index that summarizes relevant indicators on digital performance in the European Union, Spain is ranked number 9 out of the 27 EU member states, with a score of 57.4. Not bad, right?
Nevertheless, these indicators show a worrying trend in terms of the digital divide that exists in certain populations in Europe. Data indicates there is inequality in terms of access to the Internet, ICTs and digital skills, especially between rural and urban areas.
In addition, it is also evident that, both at national and European level, there is a significant gender gap in relation to specialized digital skills. For example, in Spain only 1.6% of women working in the ICT sector, compared to 5.6% of men. This, according to the Women in Digital Scoreboard 2021 (WiD 2021), the scoreboard that studies the digital gender gap at European level and is part of the DESI project.
The digital empowerment of people is a key factor to be able to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital transformation at a national level.
What can we do to reduce the digital divide in Spain? Let's start by understanding the types of gaps that exist and what their consequences are!
Types of digital divide
- Access divide
This refers to the possibility of certain groups of people to access ICTs. The reasons for this gap are usually socio-economic inequalities between people from different geographical regions. This is due to the fact that not all places have infrastructures that facilitate Internet connection or not all people have the resources to afford devices and services that allow such connection.
- Usage gap
This refers to the lack of digital skills that are needed to use ICTs at a personal or professional level. As a result, people who lack these skills are unable to obtain jobs related to new technologies or, for example, cannot carry out administrative procedures telematically.
Consequences of the digital divide
Digitalising a country can be a complicated task. Especially if we consider that any transformation has a direct impact on people and does not affect everyone equally. Here are some of the effects of the digital divide.
- No communication or isolation: people who do not have access to an ultra-fast Internet connection are less likely to be able to communicate effectively via telematics.
- Barrier to study: the arrival of the pandemic has made evident the need for all students and teachers to have access to the technology and digital skills necessary to ensure citizenship training.
- Accentuation of social differences: the lack of digital skills reduces the options of access to many jobs, which has a direct impact on the economy of these workers.
- Gender discrimination: as mentioned above, the digital divide affects women more than men, which violates the principles of gender equality.
Strategies to reduce the digital divide in Spain
Although Spain has a high performance in connectivity and has improved considerably in recent years in the implementation of fiber optic networks, there is still a digital divide. For this reason, the acquisition and development of digital skills is one of the Government's priorities. The government has designed a series of strategies, plans and actions to bridge the digital divide in the country.
Examples of these are_ Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, the Spain Digital Agenda 2026, the Technology Promotion Strategy or the Digital Competencies Plan.
All these initiatives seek to promote the acquisition and development of digital skills in the population to eliminate the digital divide. Additionally, they seek to encourage the implementation of digital technologies to promote not only the economy but a better quality of life for all.