COVID-19 – THE Gamechanger?! – Pre 10 2021 follow up

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28 June 2021 | 17:00-18:00 CEST | Studio Bruges | Video recording | Transcript
Consolidated programme 2021 overview / Day 0

Proposals: #15 #17 #18 #19 #39 #41 #42 #43 #60 #70 #73 #75 #82 #88 #95

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Session teaser

Last year, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we addressed the expected impact of the pandemic on European society and economy in the panel “European Digital Economy and COVID-19 pandemic – current state of affairs, risks, and opportunities” at EuroDIG 2020. After more than a year, we would like to discuss the ongoing developments and assess their impact on the European ecosystem together with representatives of various stakeholder groups. In particular, we would like to focus on the perspectives expressed in the open mic session “Open mic: COVID-19 in retrospective”.

Session description

Until .

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The session will be held in an interactive panel format. Key participants will have the opportunity to share and discuss their perspective in a short opening statement. A Q&A will follow, curated by the moderator based on the input received during the previous open mic session “Open mic: COVID-19 in retrospective”.

Questions from the audience are also welcome

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Focal Point

  • Marcel Krummenauer

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  • Marcel Krummenauer, Youth IGF Germany
  • Minda Moreira, Internet Rights and Principles Coalition
  • Roberto Gaetano, EURALO
  • André Melancia
  • Daniil Golubew
  • Alex Culliere
  • Desara Dushi, Vrije University Brussels

Key Participants

  • Klaus Algieri, Chamber of Commerce of Cosenza
  • Arben Shkodra, Albanian Manufactury Union
  • Daniel Krupka, Gesellschaft für Informatik

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Remote Moderator

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  • Marcel Krummenauer


  • The main question remains: Is COVID-19 ushering in a fundamental digital paradigm shift?
  • The digital divide in society and the economy is becoming increasingly clear. Only through fairly allocated investments and efforts in both applied and academic education, (inter)national cooperation as well as governmental regulations it might be possible to stop or even to invert the current trend.
  • Many pupils and students have lost both their social and educational connection due to the Corona pandemic. This is, among other things, due to digital didactic concepts that came into focus during the pandemic but are currently not yet fully mature. Consequently, these must be pursued further after the pandemic.
  • The efforts towards a sustainable society, as well as the sustainable use of digital resources, are becoming increasingly important. The concrete quantification of the influence of individual actors on the environment is necessary – however, this is becoming increasingly difficult due to the increasing centralisation of capacities.

Video record


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>> NADIA TJAHJA: Good afternoon and welcome back to Studio Bruges. I am your host live from Bruges. This is the follow-up session of the open mic on COVID-19 and retrospective and moderated by myself. I would like to ask the cohost to go over the session rules.

>> REMOTE MODERATOR: Hello. Good afternoon. I am your Remote Moderator and also best employee. We believe in open dialogue. And that’s why we like to go over the session rules. I am reading out the main things. So firstly, if your display name is not your full name on Zoom, please can you rename yourself? Secondly, you will have a chance to ask questions during the session. You can ask for the floor by using the raise hand button and then we will unmute you. And the video is slightly (inaudible). You can use the chat to say your thoughts.

And if you post on the chat it will be shared with the other participants. So we’ll be here in the background to make sure that the discussion is inclusive and good spirited. And with that I would like to invite the Moderator to come over and guide us through this discussion.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for the very kind introduction to the EuroDIG. My name is Marcel Krummenauer. I am going to host the session. An hour ago we had a session on the topic of the retrospective of the COVID-19 to gather some ideas and thoughts together on the current state of affairs, risks and opportunities.

At that point we thought that about a year, maybe some more time we will get over the pandemic but as we currently see, we aren’t. And we want to use the moment to go in to a short retrospective and have a look back at the messages that we formed last year which were mainly about the influence of COVID-19 on the economics, on the society, on education as well as on sustainability. And we have three speakers for this panel. And I would like Danny to introduce himself.

>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Hi. I’m Daniel Krupka. I’m the managing director of the German Informatics Society which is the community of computer scientists in Germany. There are about 20,000 personal members. We do have, and my job is to support those people in their work who are doing a lot of political work, but we are also involved in the EuroDIG as well as in the IGF supporting the youth participation in Internet Governance.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your short introduction. And I would provide Mohan Gandhi with the floor who kindly joined.

>> MOHAN GANDHI: Can you hear me?

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Yes. Loud and clear.

>> MOHAN GANDHI: I’m Mohan. So we are obviously working hard with not necessarily that software layer that every thing of these tech startups but in the underlying data centers. We are aware of the skills shortage in that realm and that’s really taken off over COVID.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot both of you for your introducing yourselves. Unfortunately our third speaker has not joined. Nevertheless I would like to kick this discussion off and cross fingers that he will manage to join since there is some technical issues I gather at the moment.

Daniel, would you like to present your view or the view of the German Informatics Society over the last year and a half?

>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Yes, I’m happy for the invitation. I’m going to talk about the school sector first. I have prepared a brief impulse about that. But I’m also happy to talk about the impacts of the COVID pandemic on the field of work in general. But I think that in many ways the school sector is kind of a vocal point. And therefore, I think for a discussion it might be a good kick start. So the general question is or was, is COVID-19 assuring a fundamental digital paradigm shift? And I would say that very much depends on how we go on once the pandemic is over. It surely will be an accelerator of digitalization in many fields, in education as well as in the – in the world of work. But very much depends on the conclusions and the takeouts, yeah, we proceed on from this pandemic situation.

So I’ve prepared like three theses and happy to discuss that afterwards. I’m gonna say a few words on each of them. And that might be kind of an impulse for a further discussion.

So first for the school sector, we, and that is what also studies say, see a real danger that the last year is a lost year for many students, especially for those who are or who come from a less privileged background. Second, the digitalization and the use of digital tools in German schools has or made a massive progress within the last year. But it’s still lagging behind.

And third, it became evident more than ever before that students as well as teachers or that – the importance of digital skills of students and teachers where we have to focus a lot more on.

So let me first say a few words on my first thesis, on the danger that there are many students falling behind during this pandemic situation. I’m convinced that the late effects of that pandemic in the – in the education sector are, yeah, in the upcoming years will be a lot more apparent. Just recently the German Academy of Science, Leopoldina has released a study, saying that some minors, especially those from social weaker backgrounds need to be more accompanied in the short and medium and probably also in the long term by first the stress and also the deficits in the education they received.

And the goal must be that the situation of children in Germany but that probably also counts for other European countries after the pandemic should be better than before. Meanwhile a new study gives distance learning during the Corona crisis very poor grades. They looked at data from around the world with this sobering results. The average development of competencies during the school closures in spring 2020 can be described as a stagnation between competencies towards a loss, and this in the range of effects you have during summer vacation.

Then my second point that digital equipment, digitization of schools has made massive progress but still is lagging behind. So the Corona pandemic has accelerated digitization in German schools but still significant gaps in the digital equipment and the skills and the usage of digital tools.

And according to a representative study by the University of Gattingham, for example, one in two schools still cannot provide WiFi for the students and teachers. There is a clear gap between individual schools. For example, in terms of digital literacy. There are many schools who even in the prepandemic time, very advanced and they handled the situation very well. But there are so many schools lagging behind before the pandemic and that didn’t change within the pandemic.

So recalling some numbers from this study of the University of Gattingham, in the pre-Corona time, there were only 10% of the schools using learning management systems. And this number increased dramatically to about 40%, but that also means that about 60% are not using learning management systems now one and a half years later.

Schools in Germany have experienced a surge in digitization. The increased momentum is reflected in this use of learning management systems.

So there has been a very strong dynamic in this pandemic year. And there are some other numbers. I want to recall from this study while only 27% of teachers report a discernible digital school strategy for 2020, this year has more than doubled in February 2021. Supportive digital infrastructure has doubled from a quarter to a half, but that means that the other half does not have a proper digital infrastructure.

The biggest lift under the pandemic is in school owned end points from 36 to 65% for devices to be used by students and from 15 to 55% for those that can also be taken home for learning.

And yeah, that brings me to my third point, that it became evident even more than in the prepandemic time that digital skills are more important than ever. And I mean we had this development before. We all know that there will be a massive shift in the digital skills needed within the workforce, with ongoing automation on the present connectivity, Artificial Intelligence that will change the workplaces significantly.

And yeah. I mean the OECD identified computational thinking and that’s the point I want to make as an excellent skill in preparing students to face the present and future challenges of digitization. And the digital society plays an ever-growing demand for computational thinking and programming education. And my thesis would be and I guess I’m not alone with that, that computational thinking will become a cultural technique that is just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. However, if we talk about digital skills we often only talk about the use and the application oriented perspective.

So we have to much more focus on yeah, computational thinking and informatics and computer science as skills that needs or that basically everybody needs to have some basic skills in these – in this field and that doesn’t only count for students but also for the teachers. And that maybe I will leave it with that, but maybe we can also talk about that in the discussion because the teachers, of course, they have a very – they are a very crucial factor. And there is still a lot to do on the side of the digital skills amongst the teachers.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for the initial statement. And especially the third part is perfect. You bridge between you and Mohan since you mentioned that digitization is moving forward pretty fast. And another issue is pressing more and more and that’s the question of sustainability. And luckily Mohan Gandhi is working with the sustainable digital infrastructure alliance. And they are working towards solutions in that area. And he might be able to link that to the early education of children possibly as well as those other people coming to the market very soon.

>> MOHAN GANDHI: I will start with maybe the first question. So what is the digital paradigm shift? What does that sort of mean? What we did notice is that a lot of people, you know, were forced or otherwise in the teaching profession and office workers, a lot of things are done over teleconferencing. The network is provisioned there, is there for the peak.

Now preCOVID the peak often occurred at about 8 p.m. Everyone came home and switched on Netflix on the TV and on Netflix and multiple devices going. That was often the peak from the network’s perspective. And what happened through COVID we didn’t necessarily reach the peak with respect to bandwidth. So we had a more permanent peak throughout the day and then average utilization. You would almost say that was a more sustainable use of the existing infrastructure we currently have.

Obviously that’s – that doesn’t take in to account like Daniel was talking about the impacts on individuals. So COVID stressed our infrastructure but our telecommunication infrastructure held up pretty well, at least it did here in London. What will happen post-COVID? And I know we don’t really know what post-COVID looks like. Some people we will never go back to things. I think it’s pretty clear, in the teaching profession they will get back to the classroom. I can expect they won’t use video conferencing in teaching the way they previously did. That’s not to say they won’t use it at all. There might be virtual check-ins for homework.

What do I think is going to happen? We don’t know. What I think is going to happen is that basically medium and large size companies who have office workers will probably move to a more hybrid model. Small businesses won’t. They will get back in the office. Factory workers, manufacturing workers, oil and gas workers, transportation logistics, they won’t necessarily be that affected. And they will go back to doing what they previously did.

So the – you could say the stress that the networks are feeling now will probably subside a little bit. What is permanent is maybe that larger office. A larger corporate with multiple offices who will move to what I have seen is a three-day week in the office, for example. And that is as much to do because the technology has enabled them to do that. I take London, for example, a lot of these medium and large size companies exist in the cities where fiber connectivity is good. They can do that now. And the pandemic may be changed, people’s perspectives. Maybe 20 years ago they thought it was ridiculous. Those medium and large companies that I mentioned they got away with being able to operate with relatively little impact with people working from home and over videoconferencing. What they lost was the benefits of office work, onboarding new employees. The simple questions the new employees couldn’t ask or didn’t feel comfortable asking. Time will tell.

I think that’s why most companies will move to hybrid two to three-day-a-week as opposed to completely remote. I think that’s what is permanent. The pilot will need to be in the plane. There are some professions and industries that we haven’t had – COVID hasn’t changed anything. The primary effects of this like we just said is maybe the office workers working the hybrid week.

What are the second order effects of that? What are the second order effects of children who have spent 18 months learning online? And they may be positive. Positive might be better videoconferencing skills. Negative might be they are so traumatized by the videoconferencing experience that they don’t want to do it anymore. That’s where the – we are I guess are looking now. It’s the second order effects. If there is a rebound effect, obviously everyone rushed to purchase Microsoft Teams. Microsoft is building a lot of data capacity. A lot of the purchases of their Teams suite is permanent.

Hence why they are building this capacity. So that is where the permanent change, the permanent shift might be for the office worker. I haven’t seen it so much for many other industries. But second order effects are, how will it affect the underlying infrastructure, the network infrastructure and the data center infrastructure. And like I just said Microsoft is building a lot of data centers. And I actually don’t know about telecoms. I know that they pretty much, the average almost hit the peak during COVID. I don’t know what their plans are going forward.

So that’s my two cents on the paradigm shift. And long answer, to answer your second question on sustainability, it’s very difficult to quantify what is sustainable, especially as people move more and more to public cloud. Because when you move from owning and operating your own service, say in your own basement, what we call an enterprise data center, when you move that to the public cloud you actually – when we look at it from a carbon perspective it goes from scope 1 and 2 to scope 3. You lose the ability to track that. It is very difficult for public cloud providers to be able to tell you exactly the carbon emissions involved in the specific – it is very hard for them to match that to a customer or to a workload. It is sort of in the mix. And therefore you are using assumptions and aggregations.

Overall we do believe it is more efficient to use public cloud than not. The – the economies of scale that these public carbon providers have they have every incentive to drive down unnecessary energy costs. But it is actually very difficult to measure and track that. And that’s one of the things that we are working on at the SDIA. The ability to – you can call it a digital carbon footprint. It is quite an exciting topic that we are working on.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your initial statement. And luckily Arben made it to the panel and won over the technical difficulties. As a short introduction we heard a statement from Daniel already discussing issues and challenges in digital education, especially with the focus on Germany. And how the education system is changing and how the didactic concepts need to be implemented in the future to have the youth, students and education system ready for the future.

And we heard from Mohan Gandhi around the question of paradigm shift of COVID-19, especially on the digital infrastructure, to which extent we are using it. And in the end I think you were with us at that part where he talked about the sustainability and how it is hard to measure it and tackle it down through the customer, that we are facing a lot of changes at the moment. And when we come to changes, especially to small and medium enterprises you might be the perfect person to introduce us to the Albanian situation of the manufacturing companies and what they’re struggling with.

>> ARBEN SHKODRA: Thank you for having me here. Sorry, I was late but due to technical problems. Yes, in fact, the COVID-19 situation, the pandemic here was a very big shock for citizens and also for enterprises and industries especially. I am Arben Shkodra. I am the Secretary-General. And yes, for sure that pandemic ’19 has a huge impact, the first wave of shock in the beginning and after that the aftershock that we are now not feeling and facing, in fact, resilience was one of the major problems. Governments and companies were not ready to face this kind of trauma. And due to problematics in the state, the Government was not able to have this kind of approach with small and medium enterprises especially but also with big enterprises.

In the end of the pandemic year we are now analyzing the situation. And the situation is that not only in Albania but also in the whole region, in the West Balkans we had the same problems. The first problem is employment, unemployment. It is the impact.

The second is that we don’t have as a region, but also in Albania we don’t have the right financial mechanism to support these kinds of traumas. In terms of mechanism we had less let’s say possibility to access finance. Banks they were very rigid, even before pandemic year but also during the pandemic year. And now after the pandemic year they are totally rigid. A third thing is that we in different sectors, for example, in textile or leather, we are facing problematics of the foreign market. They are not ordering as they have before the pandemic year. So somehow many of they industries that they are processing and working in textile and leather, they are facing difficulties because they don’t have so much work. Let’s say that something that is happening, that two major things that happens during the pandemic and after the pandemic, we are facing the increase of the transportation cost and this is worldwide. It is not only nation wide or regional wide, it is worldwide.

Second thing is the increase of raw materials. So I think that for this year, these are two of the major problematics that worldwide we have to solve. I don’t know what happens to China transportation because they are the major leading partner worldwide for transportation and container processing.

But something happened in China. And now we are facing the increase of cost of transportation and also the raw materials. So this is an overview of what we had during the pandemic year and now what we are facing now after the pandemic year.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thank you for your initial statement. Even though all of you talked about three completely different areas and – but there is one point that all of you are connecting on and that’s the digital divide. Is it the poor or rich families that are having their children brought to school and supporting them? The small and medium enterprises who are in a good or bad situation? Opportunities to grow and difficulties that the current situation brings with it. And the sustainability part, of course, if you have money to invest on sustainable solutions that have a future you can grow your business or research even though the pandemic is happening at the moment. And what I would like to ask all of you three is how you want – would like to tackle that digital divide in your respective area?

>> DANIEL KRUPKA: If I may start.


>> DANIEL KRUPKA: I think it’s very much linked to the third point I made. We have to provide our not only the students but even like kids and younger age with the proper digital skills. So they are able to participate in, yeah, in the workforce of the 21st Century. And that – I mean it’s not only the digital skills. We see that those students lagging behind with like – who come from like a weaker social, social background, they don’t have the tools at home. They maybe – they may not have the abilities to focus on such things. So they also very much need like help and that is – I mean in Germany there is this discussion going on for a whole day schooling that students and kids get from like early age coming to the educational system. And that – through the whole day. So that kind of – the dependency on the social background of the families is less obvious and becomes not like the main factor for the educational success of the kids.

And then maybe also adding to what Arben said and what Mohan said, we – we see in Germany, like for companies, that about – there was a study conducted last year that about two-thirds of HR managers expect that home office, telecommuting, mobile working will be used more frequently but that very much depends on the industry, right? If you are in manufacturing, it’s hard. There is no possibility for home office or mobile, mobile work. And then – and those are again numbers for Germany. Especially that counts very much for like bigger companies. They do have the possibilities and the resources to provide that.

But in Germany 99% are small and medium-sized companies. And with them it’s a lot harder. They’re – the majority will go back to as it was before. So I think we’ll see a great backlash there. And I mean there are Governmental programmes to support those small and medium-sized companies in their digitization efforts. But it’s not going to be like a dramatic shift. It’s more like a slow progress and a slow – yeah, evolution, that would be my guess there.

>> MOHAN GANDHI: My turn to bridge the digital divide, short term and long term. I guess what is the digital divide? It is made up maybe of the lack of skills or the mismatch between the demand in skills and the supply of those skills. And Daniel mentioned a very good point before, that often teachers don’t have the digital skills to teach the children. Often the children are ahead with respect to digital and that’s definitely the case here in the UK. We have a very academic style of education. So those sorts of digital skills don’t really come in to the traditional school education system at all.

And they might be touched on at University but they are often developed out of people’s passions on the side. And I think as – that’s not a bad way because you often get exceptional developers with this and exceptional software engineers. But is there a way of formalizing that? And I see a movement in universities. We see schools of computer science, they are expanding quite dramatically. And we are seeing specific niches that I work with, for example, centers of FinTechs, Universities are applying computer science and data science and digital to traditional industries like banking. FinTech, that center for FinTech at the University of East London that I spoke to yesterday is one example of this.

I do think that digital will be as embedded at a point in this century as embedded in a warehouse or an office building as the electrical infrastructure. It will become like a utility. You need your water in your building for the toilets and electricity for the lighting. And you need digital elements for a lot of the elements of your work. So I see that coming. Like Daniel said, how quickly that comes, it depends on the industry and adoption rates, et cetera, et cetera. So it is really, really difficult to say.

May also depend on other elements, sort of the regulatory framework. It is difficult to put an end date on that. What are the other elements of the digital divide? That’s probably the digital skills. For example, in the data center, there aren’t actually that many people who require digital skills. What we require in the data centre is electrical skills. That skilled section, electrical and mechanical skilled section we find that is also stressed because the people who built data centers, who really took them off in the ’90s and early thousands they are starting to retire. And the data center industry is so hidden you could say it’s so under the radar that often people don’t know that it is a good career or good field even though that growth rates are exponential. There are more women in the military than there are working in data centers. Often people working in data centers are former military electrical/mechanical engineers. So that’s something that is quite interesting.

That is as much a perspective issue or a social stigma, stigma is the wrong word, but you know what I mean, as a skills gap. As with many of these things I think that every action will have an opposite reaction. So probably the – you will see reflected in people’s salaries, starting salaries for data scientists who are already very high, starting salaries for data center workers will be quite high. As a result of that you will also see people investing in this individual more because they have so much in demand. I think you will see quasi Pan-industry, formal education programs starting certainly in the data center, in the infrastructure layer. And I’m not too sure whether that software layer. I suspect it will happen in both.

>> ARBEN SHKODRA: It’s my turn? I think that yeah, I’m – I agree, fully agree with my colleagues. Just to mention that industries, they had a different approach on the digitalization automatization, based on IE, based on Artificial Intelligence. I think that everything started from there, the Fourth Era of Industrialization. In terms of digitization of industries, I think that for sure that we – after the pandemic or during the pandemic we face the kind of problematics. The pandemic situation was a stress test for industries. It comes out that without digitization industries cannot survive in another trauma like this.

Economy of scale, it’s another – it’s another issue. And I think that to reach the economy of scale, absolutely industries they must have a digital approach of processes, automation of processes. Rather Bill Gates when he starts discussing on robotics and everyone was starting to laugh. There will come a day when we start taxing the robots. It means that robots will start to somehow to replace main power.

In our region, not only in Albania, in our region we are facing a lot of immigration and high-scaled immigration. And for this reason I think that it’s urgent to start thinking about digitalization and also education. We must continue to educate people. But digitalization and automatization. It is something that’s coming. We have to approach it slowly but we have to approach it. Not to put it aside. Digitalization is crucial in this context for the years to come.

>> DANIEL KRUPKA: If I might add on this, I mean Arben just mentioned what is claimed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, that basically industrial processes are becoming automatized and digitized. Just last week I guess was that Siemens which is like the biggest industrial supplier in Germany, just announced a strategic shift in what they are doing. They are building power plants and stuff like that. But they want to become a software company within the upcoming years. Also automotive, Volkswagon, they have the resources. They do have the money. Others like small, medium-sized companies they don’t have the power and the resources.

Therefore I think, and that is basically what we’re seeing on a political level, we do need massive public investments in this. And that’s investing in to the digital infrastructure. But as well as and I would also call that kind of infrastructure is the educational system.

And I mean the European Commission just announced this huge investment program, and I don’t know how it is in Albania. I’m pretty sure that in the UK it might be the same, that Governments are investing massively in those fields.

>> ARBEN SHKODRA: Not to interrupt you, but yes, for sure that public money is always good. And if we have a digital agenda as a strategy it might be better. Sure, that education must be on the top of this. And we have to push forward with the education, not only education in general but education in IT. On the other hand, yes, Government must start digitization also for the public services. In Albania we can say that we had maybe with the other countries, because now we are implementing also the digital invoice. Means that the trading between companies, between other stakeholders, it’s – it’s becoming digital. So I think that moving forward in this direction maybe it will be much more easy for companies to change.

But the last thing that I want to say is that okay, public money okay, with digital agenda but also companies, also as organizations, private organizations they must change. They must change the way how they do business, how they approach the market and so on. So digitalization also internally as processes for companies it’s a good thing. Thank you.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot. And I would like to give the mic to Gergana to ask a question.

>> GERGANA PETROVA: Sure. So my name is Gergana Petrova. I work at RIPE NCC. My comment has nothing to do with the organization that I work for. You were talking about the gender divide and its relationship with how industrialized the country is. I have the feeling that actually analyzing the data there is very little correlation with how developed the country is and the gender divide. There is the opposite relationship. When we look at developed rich countries, OECD countries, you see that there are actually less women in computer science programs. When you focus – because this is EuroDIG, when we look at Europe in particular there is a clear divide between the rich West and Eastern Europe. We see high percentages of women interested in engineering and computer science.

Bulgaria, the country I come from they are 46%. In the Arab world, I don’t know if you guys know, but it’s truly high percentages of women involved in engineering majors. In Malaysia and Thailand they are more than 50%. In a lot of conferences that I go, especially if like Western focused there is this almost like attitude that other Developing Countries have to learn from us but it’s the opposite now. Like we need to – I’m saying we because I’m based in Amsterdam. We the West need to humble ourselves and think of what messages we are sending to our young girls because these sort of attitudes are something that develops from a very young age, what sort of advertisement do they constantly see, what sort of extracurricular activities do parents help them enroll in that leads to such a huge disparity.

I think in the UK there is 10% of women are in the computer science programs. That is – that’s huge. There is something happening. And I remember that – I have raised this point in some conferences including ones in Brussels. And there was very little follow-up like yeah, this is how it is.

But I’m like what are you planning to do. How are you going to increase participation of women in your programs. And I once read an academic study written by a white Western Jew who did find that, that’s the statistics, like statistics don’t lie and he tried to explain it. And the way he explained it was, I don’t know, so he explained it that basically women are by nature not interested in engineering. And in poorer countries they are interested in engineering because it is higher paid positions.

Having grown up in Bulgaria I slapped myself in the face so hard it is no. It is just an explanation of a white Western Jew. I went to a Matts school and I experienced my whole life girls and boys being totally equal and not having absolutely any division. I went to Germany, and sorry for pointing to particular countries, and I went to German university and I took a few math classes. Just me entering the hall, people are like are you lost. I’m not lost. But this is math 101 or whatever. Yeah, I’m taking it. And people were so surprised that I would be taking this class.

Yeah, again this happened in Germany. Never happened in Bulgaria. No, not anybody was surprised that I was taking math in my school. Remembering this studying, oh, yeah, women in Developing Countries are choosing it because it is higher paid professions. No. No. Go and live in those countries. That’s not what’s happening. There is something going on in the West that discourages young girls a lot from following these career paths. Has nothing to do with their biology, oh, my God. I’m going to stop talking now and give the floor to other people.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for bringing that topic to our discussion. And I get Daniel can add some color to that topic.

>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Thank you. Because I mean that is kind of a poor, yeah, result we do have from like 30 years of women and girls trying to bring them in to more technical, more technical fields. And I don’t have the perception that or that – at least in my bubble, people are not looking disrespectfully to others towards, for example, Eastern European countries because I very well know the numbers from Bulgaria and from Southeast Asia that their women and girls are a lot more participating in technical fields.

And I can add that we are conducting computer science competitions, right, for students or kids from like the age of 8 until they are grown up, until 18. And within the youngers, you see that there are like about 400,000 students each year participating. And in the younger age, with 8 until about 12, 13, the percentage is almost equal of girls participating in those competitions and boys. And then the number of girls dramatically goes down until you have and in Germany it is like 20% of girls participating in those competitions. But also who are studying technical like engineering or also computer science. It’s about 20 to 25%, which is very, very weak.

And that is – because it’s so deep in our – within our heads, and it’s really hard to kind of break that. And that’s why it’s so important to like in the early ages already to bring computer science engineering things in to schools to kind of break those stereotypes.

And I mean like 60 years ago when computer science started, there were more women in those fields than men, right? But it’s really hard. We are working on that since 20 years. And we are making such poor progress.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: I would like to offer Mohan the chance to comment on that. After that we will move over to Vlad.

>> MOHAN GANDHI: My personal opinion is our education system is too academic. It is not about men and women and digital. Universities and schools are not creating enough STEM people in general. In the UK there is a shortage of science, technology, engineers, mathematicians. We didn’t touch the subject of engineering until we were in University. Which means you had already chosen to do engineering before you knew what it was. And I wonder if this as exactly as Daniel said we are exposing people to STEM subjects so late that they are already down the academic track. And, for example, in the UK I use the UK because that’s where I am from, a lot of people do very academic subjects through school and then also through University.

So I completely agree with Daniel that we need to bring STEM in to the curriculum at a far earlier age to kind of stimulate those you could say brain muscles on the STEM fields far earlier and to help people see there is a career in this field of study you could say. That’s my two cents.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your comment. I would like to give the floor to Vlad.

>> VLAD IVANETS: Okay. That seems it. I can hear it. Hello, everyone. Thank you. Yes. And I’m here in order to represent some youth voices because they are always needed. Yeah. And I represent a part of youth D coalition that worked this year on our messages. And they were finally published. And I will send a link to the chat so you can look through. And if you watch us on Youtube or prerecorded, then you can also find them on the official EuroDIG website.

So I will just shortly describe what we are talking about and our main concerns as the young population was about digital technologies and how they are represented inside the Governmental structures. Also platforms, digital self-determination and disinformation as well. So I think this – these few parts are really interconnected with what has been discussed previously. And we believe that in the modern world, we all live (inaudible) and we sometimes need more actions from Government because governments become online structure as well and they provide many sources online. And we need to make it as much accessible for everyone as it can be. And also with the respect to the minorities who are lagging on the access to the services. Also we were talking about platforms, they need to be more transparent because in the modern world data is somehow – is the new oil. Let’s say it like this.

And we want them to be open and also accessible to the people with some problems, probably minorities or, you know, marginalized groups which are to date many. Yes. And we were also thinking about digital self-determination. Because as we use online services we want to have more presentation there. And we need to make this online environment as friendly as it can be. And we also expect from digital platforms to work on this. If we talk about discrimination, we want governments to not spread as much information as they do. And we want media to pay more attention to this problem, especially during this COVID pandemic. We all know about this information. So it’s my short input on youth messages. And you can find and learn more on the website or via the link that I just sent to the chat.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your comment. And Gergana also, thank you to your end for your inputs. I would like to ask the key participants to kind of have a short final statement on whether the COVID-19 pandemic brings some catalyzing effects which might be solving some of the issues that you are mostly failing for out. This might be the immigration of highly qualified personnel. For Mohan this might be a focus on sustainability. And Daniel, it might be the focus on digital education, digital literacy and bringing that to our education system. I would like to invite you to do a short wrap up. Who would like to start?

>> MOHAN GANDHI: I can start. From a sustainability perspective, I think what has COVID-19 done? It has pushed certain functions online. And those may have rebound effects in the future. And generally speaking not flying for a meeting in the south of France, having it over videoconferencing is better for the environment. But for every move we make like that, we – that demand that puts on the network, might send signals to the telecom providers to put down more cables that may enable future services. So the – it has catalyzed a lot of change that might have – without COVID taking a long time and that may also bring rebound effects in our wider digital ecosystem. And so we are very – very clear that the – this will bring sustainability benefits like it did with videoconferencing versus flying to a meeting. But there will also be rebound effects. From the rate we can see it looks pretty exponential. Managing that in a way that maximizes the benefits of this industry and doesn’t hold it back but makes sure it is a force for good.

>> DANIEL KRUPKA: Maybe I can add on this. So I think that the pandemic has shown the necessity of digitization, digitalization and digital transformation even more as it has been in the prepandemic time and shown the necessity of a sustainable digitization. And that is something that I mean comes alongside and that’s not really a thing that was triggered by the pandemic. That was there before, right? But especially from the youth that there is such a fundamental movement towards a more sustainable yeah, way of working, of living. So that will not go away.

As having said, I think and that the education is a key factor. We have to focus very much on that. Also for closing the digital divide, closing the gender gap within STEM. But also closing kind of the social gaps that are kind of coming up through the pandemic. And I think that can be supported by Governments, by intelligent investments in the right fields. And I’m pretty sure we are going to see that. And I mean there is a lot of public money right now there. So I’m positive that we will come out of this pandemic even stronger as we went in.

>> ARBEN SHKODRA: Yes. In fact, as I mentioned before, one of the impacts during the pandemic year was also unemployment. Unemployment coming from all sectors. And we have seen also a link with unemployment, also the lack of assistance from Governments to preserve employment. And citizens in the same times employed in different sectors. And different fields, they start thinking why not to immigrate in another country where the system can provide assistance for you and you can have much more money than you earn in your country. Unemployment linked with immigration, it is the high skills. What to do about that, we will – we have to move forward with education. Educate people, educate highly skilled employees in order that we will have always people ready to take over positions and vacancies. The other side we cannot stop the immigration because globalism means also mobility, mobility of workers, mobility of skills and other things.

Countries like Balkans, like our region, absolutely they will have always the brain drain. And the brain drain it’s inevitable. So this is one of the major for me, the major problems that we will face in the next five years in our region.

>> MARCEL KRUMMENAUER: Thanks a lot for your final words, Arben. Thanks a lot to all three speakers for taking time to participate in today’s session. Thanks to the audience for listening and for asking questions. And crossing fingers that every one of you is staying safe and healthy and is working and coming through the end of the pandemic at its best.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Many thanks to the speakers and participants but also to Marcel for moderating these last two sessions. It has brought interesting thoughts and developments. I find it an exciting place that we can come together and discuss where we came from, where we are going to and how do we want to achieve that.

And thus it brings us to the closing of Day Zero. And to close, I would like to invite the Studio Live stage to make the final intervention for today. Can you hear us? Studio Live stage will be there in a minute.

But that gives us a little bit more of an opportunity to kind of look at what is ahead of us tomorrow. Here in Studio Bruges we have focus sessions and new development in – for EuroDIG and where we will be having presentations but also breakout sessions. So we can actually have discussions in more detail about the topics that are most important to you.

But I think that we have the opportunity to do just more than having discussions and actually coming together with good practices regarding themes like greening Internet Governance, digital sovereignty. And we are looking at new European proposals on NIS and cybersecurity agenda and the European media scape and how to recreate a trusted sphere. Many of the interesting keynotes that we are going to have over the next two days will provide food for thought in our daily lives. And I hope that you will choose to come back to Studio Bruges. But if you do not, we have very many interesting sessions that are happening in Studio Belgrade and Studio Trieste. I hope I have spoken enough that we can do a quick but lovely closing in the Studio Live stage. Studio Live stage, are you there? I can see you, but I cannot hear you.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: We can hear you. Can you hear us?

>> NADIA TJAHJA: We can hear you.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: How was the day?

>> NADIA TJAHJA: It was really great discussions. Active in chat and in the discussions. And I have to really thank the Remote Moderator here in Studio Bruges who has been trying to activate the group and participants who have not been shied to get involved and participate.

>> SANDRA HOFERICHTER: We would like to thank you for your first day. And I think it was a good trial. Tomorrow and the day after is going to be the most important day. We look forward to welcoming you tomorrow morning officially in Bruges.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: We look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

>> Enjoy your first free evening and let’s meet again tomorrow. Thank you. See you tomorrow.

>> NADIA TJAHJA: Good evening, everyone.