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University of Porto wants to increase the digital skills of the elderly

The University of Porto (UP) will launch ICTskills4All on Friday, a project aimed at “increasing the digital skills of the elderly population”, reducing “isolation and segregation,” announced the European coordinator of this initiative.

“We are facing a very significant social and technological change, and in fact, about 35% of this elderly population, both in Portugal and in the rest of Europe, has no digital competence,” explained the European project coordinator, Elísio Costa.

The project, developed under the auspices of Porto4Ageing and financed by the Erasmus+ program, will take place in four more European countries (Poland, Lithuania, United Kingdom, and Belgium) and will host 160 elderly people over 55 years old, 40 of whom are Portuguese.

According to Elísio Costa, the initiative, based on the “determination of a need”, aims to empower the population with digital skills, increasing “quality of life and autonomy” and reducing “isolation and segregation.”

“This population, lacking digital skills, no longer has access to a range of services, even in terms of health, so it is important to increase the capacity to use these new products and services that are being developed,” he said.

The “ICTskills4All: Empowering old adults citizens for a digital world” initiative will run for two years, thus piloting two components: face-to-face courses aimed at the population that does not have digital skills and an online platform with courses that refer for particular situations of the day to day directed to the population with some competences.

“In these two components we are going to test the best methodology to use, whether an intergenerational methodology, where the university students are to help the elderly or a methodology in pairs, that is, where the elderly are assisted by colleagues who have more skills”, explained.

For Elísio Costa, although in this first phase the project will select “older people with more mobility,” in the future it may have “the ability to go to people’s homes and help them with digital tools.”

“Increasing the digital competencies of the population, taking into account the emergence of new health solutions, such as telemedicines, becomes an emergency and a necessity,” he added.

The project, which includes the Telecentre Europe (Belgium), Cybermoon Services (UK), HIPOKAMP (Poland) and Alliance Senior Active Riga (Latvia), will be presented on Friday at the Rectory of the University of Porto.

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