21st century is the time when technological progress is at a very high level. And it’s a fact that a lot of people belong to the same group of those hyper-connected individuals who exploit any possible communication conduits that technology has to offer in order to stay connected, exchange ideas, share knowledge (and sometimes even nonsense) with the world through the Internet.[1]

But to do so, people need two things. First – financial resources, and second – skills in order to take advantage of the Internet. Unfortunately it’s not that good as it looks, because there exists the digital divide among the people.[2]DigitalDivide-EN-HD

Techopedia™ refers the digital divide to the difference between people who have easy access to the Internet and those who do not. A lack of access is believed to be a disadvantage to those on the disadvantaged side of the digital divide because of the huge knowledge base that can only be found online.[3]

The digital divide appears in a number of different contexts, including:[4]

  1. Differences between rural and urban Internet access.
  2. Socioeconomic differences between people of different races, income and education that affects their ability to access the Internet.
  3. Differences between developed, developing and emerging nations in terms of the availability of the Internet.

There are various factors characterizing the notion of digital divide: economic, usability, empowerment. Information and knowledge have always been essential parts of economic growth, productivity and social progress.[5]

The digital divide is based on insufficient infrastructure, inappropriate or weak policy regimes, high cost of access, inefficiencies in the provision of telecommunication networks and services, lack of locally created content, and uneven ability to derive economic and social benefits from information-intensive activities.[6]

But it’s not that big case in Latvia. When talking about Latvia, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector plays a key role in the Latvian economy. ICT has been selected as one of the country’s top priorities in terms of export-oriented service sectors. The use of ICT has been recognized as an important success factor among industries in the national economy in terms of increasing competition and efficiency.[7]

It is pleasant to know that Latvia is also very active in the development of e-skills, designing new e-learning solutions along with innovative training methodologies and tools. In 2005, the Latvian Information and Communication Technology Association (LIKTA) launched an e-inclusion and e-skills development initiative, Latvia@World. The initiative’s goal was to diminish digital and social gaps in society, to provide everyone with basic information society skills, and to promote the usage of existing e-services. More than 110 000 people of various ages, nationalities and occupations have acquired e-skills with the help of this initiative.[8]

There are a lot of positive examples in means of bridging digital divide in Latvia. One of them is Get connected, Latvia! project. Operator of telecommunications and Internet services provider in Latvia Lattelecom (partly owned by the Latvian government) has launched the Get connected, Latvia! project (“Pieslēdzies, Latvija!”)  – a large scale social initiative  aimed at providing free computer literacy training to senior citizens in Latvia.[9]  Lattelecom is also known for its innovative services such as Internet TV and blindingly fast 1 Gbits/s optical Internet connections. Also Latvia has a very advanced library network with 874 libraries providing free Internet access and IT consultations to everyone.[10] And one of the newest achievements is that in the May Riga became a European leader in free public WiFi, putting Estonia’s capital Tallinn in second spot followed by Stockholm, Paris, Vienna and Helsinki.[11]

Comparing worldwide, Latvians are active internet users. There have been achieved high e-government online availability, both for citizens and for organizations in Latvia. I need to add that e-services are in a high level and widespread among Latvians. (Watch more in the video below.)

After graduation of Rezekne Higher Education Institution I will get qualification in Business Administration with specialization in commercial services management. I will be qualified and able to work in the service fields, including marketing, finance, public services, production services, transportation services, etc. But also I will have knowledge and possibility to set up my own company.

As a becoming entrepreneur I know that success of providing product or service does not come overnight. Transforming even a great idea into an entrepreneurial venture takes grit, conviction, the courage to fail early and the resilience to try again. Every entrepreneur have to stay flexible, creative and need to be willing to do whatever it takes, not only to exceed, to excel in the game, but sometimes just to stay in the game.[12]

For every company, connection to the Internet is only the first step. It’s about access – access to information, education, certification, job opportunities – in short, to the digital economy.[13]

“Being entrepreneurial” has gone viral. In business, government, health care, and education, everyone is talking about entrepreneurship.[14] By technological progress, there have been opened new opportunities for collaboration and business. In nowadays it is hard to imagine that some companies wouldn’t want to be reached on the Internet, especially through social media sites, such as Draugiem.lv (very popular in Latvia), Twitter and Facebook.

The digital gap impacts societies and the global economy in a number of sectors, and job opportunity is one of the most important one. But by knowing the positive situation in Latvia, I can be sure that my future employees (despite the age) will be qualified and knowledgeable in information and communications technologies. And thanks to programs which are  incorporating society and citizens in “digital era”, I can say that they are already provided with the necessary information, support and services to be enough educated and aware what are the changes regarding technological progress, through which companies are going to adapt to “digital era” and provide easier availability for their products and services.


 

[1] Filippouli, E. (2013, August 13). Hyperconnectivity and Digital (dis)Connection. The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-filippouli/hyperconnectivity-and-dig_b_3742409.html

[2] Ibidem

[3] Janssen, C. (n.d.). What is Digital Divide? – Definition from Techopedia. Techopedias. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/605/digital-divide

[4] Ibidem

[5] Filippouli, E. (2013, August 13). Hyperconnectivity and Digital (dis)Connection. The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-filippouli/hyperconnectivity-and-dig_b_3742409.html

[6]Wolff, L., & MacKinnon, S. (2002, July 1). What is The Digital Divide? Inter-American Development Bank. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://info.worldbank.org/etools/docs/library/57449/digitaldivide.pdf

[7] Northern Future Forum – Latvia. (2013). Valsts kanceleja. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.futureforum2013.gov.lv/en/about-nff/topics-for-the-forum/addressing-the-digital-divide/latvia-digital-divide

[8] Ibidem

[9] Gulbis, J. (2013). Bridging Digital Divide – Computer Literacy to Fight Social Exclusion. Valsts kanceleja. Retrieved June 14, 2014, from http://www.futureforum2013.gov.lv/images/LV_Piesledzies_LV.ppt

[10] Northern Future Forum – Latvia. (2013). Valsts kanceleja. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.futureforum2013.gov.lv/en/about-nff/topics-for-the-forum/addressing-the-digital-divide/latvia-digital-divide

[11] Gross, A. (2014, June 12). Riga Becomes European Leader in Free WiFi. Latvians Online. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://latviansonline.com/riga-becomes-european-leader-free-wifi/

[12] Dash, D. (n.d.). Bridging the Digital Divide. Kauffman. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.entrepreneurship.org/resource-center/bridging-the-digital-divide.aspx

[13] Ibidem

[14] Quillen, C. (2013, December 9). Being Entrepreneurial. The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2014, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-carol-e-quillen/being-entrepreneurial_b_4325338.html

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