26 September 2023

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CEE Digital Summit: digital education and lack of human capital amongst main challenges in the region

Central and Eastern Europe must focus on digital education and invest in staff training in the ICT area - said representatives of the digital industry in a discussion organized as part of the CEE Digital Summit in Warsaw. In their opinion, the countries of our region will face this challenge faster and easier if they cooperate in this area.

Capturing the power of digital economy was one of the subjects discussed at the CEE Digital Summit in Warsaw. Industry leaders spoke about how to best leverage the region's potential, as well as the challenges to the development of the digital economy and the conditions needed to take advantage of existing opportunities.

Key cooperation in the region
Corina Vasile, Executive Director at ANIS in Romania, spoke about the need for cooperation in the area of digital policies in Central and Eastern Europe. – A positive thing is that as a region we have transatlantic experience, because we have technological investments from the US and other key Western countries. We know how to cooperate in this area. In digital matters, we should cooperate more closely within the Central and Eastern European region and jointly present to the world products and services from the Three Seas Initiative countries, said Corina Vasile.

Jacek Stryczyński, Director of Innovation Projects at PKO Bank Polski, also encouraged cooperation. He pointed out that business cannot wait for framework regulations and must take action. – We should take into account the specificity of the region and look at the progress we have already achieved. The pace of digitization in different countries varies greatly. The banking sector is an example of a sector in which we are several steps ahead of Western Europe and the United States, said Director Stryczyński.

Find added value and retain talent
We recognize the issue of talent migration and cooperate with business and educational institutions. We also need to start participating as partners and find ways to leverage talent. If we do not cope with these challenges, we will continue to send profits abroad instead of keeping them where they are made, said Andrey Bacharov from Digital National Alliance in Bulgaria, emphasizing the importance of talent management. As Balazs Vinnai, president of the organization representing the ICT industry in Hungary (IVSZ), emphasized, low labor costs had been an advantage of the region for some time. – It's over now. We need to find ways to add more value. We need to unite and cooperate better, said Balazs Vinnai.
Zydrune Vitaite from Lithuanian Women Go Tech raised the issue of women's participation in the technology sector. – The best countries have the share of women in the ICT sector at the level of 25%, which means that we are not achieving half of our potential. However, the impact of education will be visible in decades, and we need to see the effects now to remain competitive and expand the digital economy.

Jaromir Hanzal, Director of the AAVIT, Czechia, spoke about the need to share good practices within the region, both in business and regulatory matters. He also pointed out that “we should not focus on the development of professions as they are now but focus on what they will be like in a few years."

The CEE Digital Summit conference in Warsaw was organized by the CEE Digital Coalition, a coalition of digital industry organizations from Central and Eastern European countries. Google, Samsung and Meta were the main partners of the event.