Mobile World Capital Barcelona was created to permanently turn Barcelona into a city of mobile and technology and not only during the Mobile World Congress. Today, we speak with Jordi Arrufí, director of the Barcelona Mobile World Capital Digital Talent program. Our discussion revolved around the significant barriers in dealing with, promoting, and attracting Digital Talent.
What is Digital Talent for you?
Digital Talent can be found in anyone who has the capacity and skills to contribute to the digital economy and its transition. Either from the perspective of the technology developer or from the user. However, Digital Talent cannot be attributed exclusively to developers because users have a lot to say and contribute to the economy and digital transformation.
How can Digital Talent be promoted?
There are three essential points to promote Digital Talent. One would be through education: inspiring boys and girls, especially girls, who are at school age and who do not yet know what they want to be when they grow up. These children may be unaware of the possibilities offered by working in a digital environment or having a stereotypical vision.
Next would be to promote Digital Talent by providing tools to professionals from other technology sectors and help them acquire digital skills and competencies. The last point would be to attract Digital Talent from other economies through different policies and incentives. As a matter of fact, reports from TalentUp have helped us a lot both in prioritizing markets and knowing where there is more supply and demand for specific IT profiles.
What is the current situation in Barcelona in terms of IT talent?
Barcelona is one of the leading technology hubs within Europe and the world, accelerating the demand for its digital profile. The city also plays a vital role in providing technological expertise. However, It is estimated that around 80,000 to 100,000, or more, are still needed. So if you want to continue growing as a technology hub, you must provoke and promote more talent because both Digital Talent and technology are what constitutes the digital economy. And even as technology is becoming more abundant, Digital Talent remains scarce.
“And even as technology is becoming more abundant, Digital Talent remains scarce.”
What can be done to attract digital talent?
There are several ways to attract Digital Talent. One could be through proactively searching campaigns that present an ecosystem in which one can develop a career. There are also cities, like San Francisco, that are already associated with technology. Barcelona, despite having some recognition, still needs to improve its image as a technological ecosystem. Another significant way to attract talent is through regulations.
For example, Portugal has a specialized visa that allows any person in the technical field to be treated like a community citizen even if they are not from the Schengen area. It also helps to have a focused economy with large and attractive technology projects. Not only does this capital generate attention, but it also attracts talent and improves the conditions and benefits of the sector.
What would you say is the most significant barrier to attracting talent?
Salary can be a significant barrier, especially if it is globalized. If it ends up competing with the salaries of the United States or the United Kingdom, for example, we might find ourselves in a very challenging position. For now, I think the most significant barrier is regulation. And with that, I mean the existing conditions for attracting talent and all the administrative procedures we need to go through. The processing usually takes months, making it impossible to acquire talent, especially when the talent is so scarce and the competition so high.
“Salary can be a significant barrier to attract Digital Talent, especially if it is globalized.”