Information and communication technology (ICT) allow members of the growing elderly population to remain independent for longer. However, while technology becomes more accessible due to lower prices and better awareness, an age-related under-utilization of technology remains.
New technologies have also thrived over the past decade, such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and mobile applications to name a few. These will drive a big change in our daily lives over the coming decade, drastically changing the way we consume, produce and work. As with all transformational changes, these offer us both opportunities and threats.
In this respect, the advantages of using new technologies, to develop social relationships, leisure and entertainment opportunities, are now felt more due to restrictions brought about in our daily life by the pandemic. Covid-19 has been a seal for technology as a great factor for the successful autonomy and aging in the life of older people.
Consequently, lifelong learning is essential to keep abreast of the latest technologies and not to miss out on various opportunities that technology offers. It is often the case that elderly groups had little opportunity to learn the Internet because it was not required in their daily life or job. However, in this day and age, with technology constantly evolving around us, in order to remain active in society and not to miss out on various opportunities and hence be part of a digitally inclusive society, learning how to use the Internet is deemed necessary.
As a result, the ICT 4 the Elderly project is here to facilitate a pathway for up-skilling individuals between the ages of 55 and 74 in their above basic digital competences and to make them aware of some of the many opportunities that the Internet offers.
This strategic partnership project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and brings together five different countries from different levels of the digital gap spectrum, namely; Switzerland (as expert partner), Germany, Slovenia, Belgium and Malta (as lead).
Figure 1 shows the different percentage levels of the partner countries involved in the project, based on the EU Commission statistics.
Through this project’s outputs we are offering a catching up opportunity to target what has come to be called “online ageing” by offering an online academy and training programme to show some of the different possibilities on how the Internet can play an important role in improving the quality of life of these people.
Finally, education and training also feature predominantly in the “Europe 2020 Strategy” as a method of promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The elderly are further away from learning whereas their engagement is crucial in order to improve their day to day life. This project features Lifelong Learning, which covers formal, non-formal and informal learning, which can become the most effective and efficient instrument for combating social exclusion by encouraging individual empowerment.