Be Digital Together - Belgium
'Be Digital Together' is an initiative of the Belgian Government to address the insufficient number of women in ICT and STEM careers, present both within Belgium and throughout the European Union. In Belgium, just around 19% of digital experts are women, and less than 8 women out of every 1.000 are STEM graduates. The initiative was launched by the Belgian Ministry of the Economy, with the support of social partners and employment agencies including Digital Vlandereen, Actiris, Bruxelles Formation, hub.Brussels and many others.
Background and aims
Women make up 52% of the population in Belgium, but only 17% work in the digital sector. This gender disparity is especially evident in certain sectors, which are already facing serious disruptions and shortages, and has the potential to grow into a real economic problem. In fact, a study done by Agoria, the Belgian technical federation, estimates that by 2030 there will be almost 600.000 unfilled jobs in Belgium, resulting in a loss of around 60 billion euros.
Another 300.000 workers will need to be reskilled by 2030 to prevent job losses. In total, the damage of the gender digital skills gap on Belgian GDP by 2030 could mean a reduction of more than 17%. As such, one of the main objectives of 'Be Digital Together' is to promote the recruitment of women in ICT, or other sectors calling for workers with sound digital skills. The organisation also encourages and supports female entrepreneurship and offers a repository of testimonials by women working in tech and digital policy.
Why is this a good practice?
'Be Digital Together' is part of a 5-year plan drawn by the Belgian Federal Government, the Ministry of Economy, partners from the private sector, and public agencies to promote STEM and ICT jobs as career paths for women and girls, the 'Women in Digital' strategy.
The strategy's aims is to analyse and research the gender gap and its origins, raise public awareness of the importance of this issue, and make sure vulnerable groups are not left behind. 'Be Digital Together' aims to tackle the 19% pay gap in the ICT sector in Belgium and offers support via the online platform, which includes trainings, workshops, upskilling programmes, and skills intelligence to women, considering a career in technology.
The platform scores high in accessibility - it is available in 4 languages (French, German, Dutch, and English). Its initiative repository is full of relevant, interactive information, with trainings and resources tailored to support the development of specific digital competences.