Digital skills initiative for elderly launched

Digital skills initiative for elderly launched

SET-listed mobile operator Total Access Communication (DTAC) has launched a digital upskill training programme for the elderly to help boost the silver economy, particularly self-employed people older than 50.

The project targets increased income of at least 15% for the elderly, in addition to inspiring them to maintain good mental health.

The project's first batch numbers 250 trainees, who are expected to build their resilience amid economic challenges brought on by the pandemic.

DTAC chief executive Sharad Mehrotra said the ageing society is a megatrend of the 21st century, and the company sees digital technology as a key enabler of good quality of life among the elderly.

Senior citizens can be valuable and meaningful contributors to society, he said.

The training is part of DTAC's Net for Living programme meant to support digital upskilling to reduce digital gaps.

DTAC works on the Net for Living project in partnership with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa), the Internet Foundation for the Development of Thailand, and the social enterprise Young Happy.

According to a UN report, the global population aged 65 and above will double to 1.5 billion by 2050, from 727 million in 2021.

Thailand is heading in this direction, with the elderly population expected to reach 28% of the total in 2033, up from 20% at present.

In the next 30 years, the elderly are expected to account for half of the Thai population, or around 30 million, according to the World Bank and KKP Research.

"If we don't ensure seniors are digitally savvy, they will struggle to access healthcare, banking and government services," said Mr Mehrotra.

The elderly need to have digital skills to boost their income streams and the training programme would help reduce the digital gap for them, he noted.

According to DTAC, a survey found 98% of those aged 50-70 in Thailand have smartphones, and they spend an average of 2-3 hours using them per day.

According to the Office of the National Economic and Social Development Council, Thailand's dependency rate -- calculated from the ratio of elderly to working-age people -- will rise from 27.7% today to 56.2% in the next two decades. This may lead to older generations having to stay in the workforce longer.

The office indicated that Thais aged 65 and above have an average revenue of 7,000 baht per month, which is expected to rise to 9,000 baht in the next decade. However, the elderly in Japan have an average monthly income of 50,000 baht.

Depa president Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said the silver economy is one of the five economic fields the state seeks to revolutionise with innovation, technology and creativity.

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