DigiAdvance: Interview with Marc Soldevila (Mobile World Capital & Barcelona Digital Talent)

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be running a series of 1:1 interviews with the team behind DigiAdvance. There are 6 expert partners behind this project, spread across three countries: Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Each partner has extensive relevant experience to bring to the table, and we’re excited to dive into the people behind the organisations in this interview series!

In today’s interview, we are delighted to have a conversation with a one of our partners, Marc Soldevila, of Mobile World Capital Barcelona and Barcelona Digital Talent.

Thank you for joining us today! Fundació Mobile World Capital Foundation (MWCapital) is a public-private foundation, and the umbrella organisation for Barcelona Digital Talent (BDT). Could you tell us a bit about the organisation’s experience which is relevant to the project?

Mobile World Capital Barcelona Foundation (MWCapital) is a public-private foundation founded in 2012, which aims to drive the mobile and digital transformation of society, while helping improve people’s lives globally. The Board of Trustees is composed of the Spanish Government, the Government of Catalonia, the Barcelona City Hall, the GSMA (representing the interests of mobile networks operators worldwide, uniting nearly 800 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem), and Fira de Barcelona. In addition, MWCapital receives support from the leading Spanish mobile network operators: Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange, Damm and Caixabank, as corporate partners. MWCapital is well-known worldwide for hosting the annual Mobile World Congress Barcelona, the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, attracting to Barcelona every year the main mobile telecommunication industry companies and professionals with a record of 109,000 attendees in 2019. 

Mobile World Capital is the umbrella organisation for Barcelona Digital Talent (BDT), which was established in 2018, and is strengthened by a group of well-established partners with more than 25 companies such as: NTT Data, Zurich, Bayer, Accenture, Nestle, Sanofi, Pepsico, HP, IBM, among others. The alliance combats the digital talent gap in order to promote market competitiveness to position Barcelona as a talent capital. To achieve this, we are committed to training in digital skills and attracting new digital talent to the city. In practical terms, we help citizens upskill and discover opportunities, we organise events to connect recruiting companies with skilled professionals, and we create a community of companies to share knowledge and insights on the current state and future trends of digital skills. So far, we have trained 1400+ individuals, boosted +2300 digital jobs, and helped 5000+ professionals upskill. 

Together, Barcelona Digital Talent brings both its 5 years of experience working to close the digital talent gap, with the wealth of expertise and connections of Mobile World Capital behind us. We have participated in several European projects and we can contribute with our expertise in technology and digital talent fields.

Work Package 2 of the project involves conducting a comprehensive needs analysis to identify the digital skills requirements for SMEs. Could you elaborate on your specific role in contributing to these aspects and how your efforts are helping shape the adaptation of courses to reflect industry gaps and preferences?

We have a deep expertise in this area as part of our activity is to publish reports and insights to analyse the labour market and the digital profiles. We always try to ensure that the insights are very focused on facilitating decision-making and the application of new policies or training actions. We publish an infographic every month that analyses the digital labour market in Barcelona-Catalonia, we also have our annual report Digital Talent Overview with more than 150 pages of content, we publish other reports on specific topics such as bootcamps training sector, digital tech hubs investments, among others.

The Digital Talent Overview 2023 report you published has already been a significant milestone. Could you highlight some of the key insights or findings from the report, particularly in terms of how it addresses digital talent and industry trends?

On June 20, we published the 5th edition of our annual report called Digital Talent Overview 2023, the benchmark report in the ecosystem that analyses the impact and evolution of the state of digital talent. This year the report incorporates a comparison between 20 European cities and a chapter that explores the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the job market. Among the 20 cities included are Barcelona, Madrid and Dublin. It remains to incorporate the agreed cities of Cork, Lisbon and Aveiro to present the report at European level.

The report contributes to the DigiAdvance project by analysing the labour market at the European level and the evolution of the different countries. The main digital profiles, supply and demand flows, salaries, the presence of women, the companies that hire the most, among other aspects, are analysed. All this market information can help in the detection of specific needs in the design of policies and implementation of training actions aimed at the business sector and the SMEs sector.

If you’d like to download the report, you can do so here.

Your recent event for the report presentation drew a remarkable audience of around 600 participants. Could you elaborate on the goals of this event and how you believe it has successfully raised awareness about the project’s objectives?

Yes, it was a great event! The main conclusions of the report were presented to an audience of 200 people in person from companies and professionals in the digital sector. The event raised awareness of the DigiAdvance project, as the audience was informed that the report is co-funded with European funds and thanks to this, in this 5th edition the comparison cities has been expanded from 10 to 20 European cities. About 600 people registered for the event and everyone has been sent a copy of the report that includes the logo of the project which is co-funded with European funds.

BDT is also leading efforts for Work Package 3, which deals with everything related to communication, dissemination, and marketing for the DigiAdvance project. Could you tell us about this, and where you are in your timeline of work for this work package?

It is important to ensure a robust communication and dissemination strategy for any project of this scope, for a number of reasons. In very simple terms, this can be broken down into three main steps. Firstly, we need to raise awareness of the project among SME leaders and managers to encourage participation in the field research on current digital skill gaps in SMEs. Secondly, we need to widely communicate the courses created through the project to SME managers and employees to encourage enrolments and participation, as well as sustain their motivation. Thirdly, we need to inform project stakeholders of the project outcomes and impact.

Right now, we are in the stage of raising awareness of the project, which has involved a number of activities. So far, we have made good progress on the project communications and dissemination activities. We have successfully created the project visual identity (logo, colour palette, etc.), the project website (Home, About, Blog), the project social media accounts (LinkedIn page, YouTube), materials for launch, such as a video, pull-ups and visuals. Holding interviews with our partners (such as this interview!) and posting regularly on social media about our research is all part of this, too.

It is important that all the partners participate actively in this work package, and to this end, we have made a first partner toolkit for our launch campaign, pulling together multiple materials (social media texts and visuals, video, newsletter text, pull-up, logo versions, etc.). As we move through the project, we’ll continue making these kinds of toolkits, both for our consortium, as well as external actors, such as for journalists, and collaborators. 

Looking beyond the project timeline, what are Mobile World Capital Barcelona hopes and aspirations for the future in terms of the impact of DigiAdvance on the digital skills landscape? How do you envision the project contributing to talent pipelines, innovation, and investment in digital technologies in the SME sector?

We are very happy to participate in this project that, thanks to the work of all the partners, we hope will provide applicable tools in the SME sector to incorporate digital talent and improve their competitiveness and accelerate their digitization process. The battle for digital talent is on a global scale and we hope to be able to contribute to making it more attractive for talent to work for an SME and pursue a career in medium or small scale companies but in sectors with high added value and growth potential.

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