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The Digital Rebirth of People over 50
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February 12, 2024 by Lobera,Jose Luis

Two years ago, Adrián Barreto’s world took a complete turn. When he fell ill with COVID-19, the 52-year-old Argentine executive spent two weeks connected to a respirator, on the brink of death. The experience marked him deeply; not only did he reflect on his life, but he decided that it was time to reinvent himself.

One of the toughest decisions he made was to leave the company where he had worked for almost 25 years in communications and human resources positions. “All I knew was working in the corporate world, in a dependent relationship,” confesses Barreto. “I felt that I didn’t have the entrepreneurial profile – and then I had a great personal crisis about what to do at 50.”

And so, he left the comfort of his corporate job with the conviction that people like him could still contribute in another capacity. He began participating in LinkedIn discussion groups about career-transition programs, until he discovered an announcement from SilverTech.

A training program in technology for people over 50, SilverTech was born in 2022 through a partnership between IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Eidos Global, a civil society organization led by young people dedicated to improving education in Argentina and also globally. 

 “In a rapidly changing world, it is increasingly important to ensure that no one is left out of access to opportunities for personal and professional development,” says Agustín Batto, the founder of Eidos Global.“For Eidos, SilverTech is a central part of our commitment to humanity, working across sectors for the development of the most vulnerable individuals and communities.”

The first stage of the SilverTech program is currently underway. It aims to train more than 2,000 people like Barreto and contribute to improving the employment situation at least 600 of those trainees. The courses are offered for free online, taking about 70 hours over three months. They cover topics such as entrepreneurship in the era of artificial intelligence and introduction to UX design. As of the end of 2023, more than 1,200 people started the training. Of the 119 people who completed the process over 6 months ago, 51 improved their employment situation.

What is interesting about this project is that it seeks to solve two problems simultaneously: while we can offer a solution to active older adults to improve their quality of life as they age, we are also addressing the economy's need to generate a bigger workforce in technology careers that are highly in-demand and well-paid," says Erika Molina, project manager at IDB Lab. 

In addition to training, the program provides socio-emotional support for participants on their new journey. “One of the most beautiful things about the experience of people going through SilverTech is the desire to learn, which for many means restructuring their mindset 100%,” says Cecilia López, program coordinator at Eidos Global. “The desire to challenge oneself, to grow, to continue betting on what's new, seems incredible to me.”

Adolfo Quiroga, a 59-year-old entrepreneur, also realized that technology was going to change his way of working. After completing a master’s in digital marketing and graduating from SilverTech courses, he decided to create the platform “De 50 y Más (Fifty and Up) as a resource for support and exchange of experiences for others who decide to reinvent themselves in adulthood. “You feel that you haven't reached your peak yet, and now with the training and socio-emotional support that SilverTech provides, you will discover a new world where there is work life after 50.”

Another feature that sets SilverTech apart is that it is first such training initiative to have four of the world's most influential technology companies as donor partners: Accenture, Microsoft, Red Hat and Salesforce. With the endorsement of these giants, Eidos Global has managed to associate more than 40 local companies with the program. 

According to Alejandro Anderlic, director of government affairs and public policy at Salesforce in Latin America, the program is much more than a learning resource: Inclusion also implies equal rights and opportunities for people over 50. There are thousands of open positions in technology in Latin America, and many more will open up thanks to digital transformation and the artificial intelligence revolution.”

Indeed, the technology field represents an opportunity for a regional population that is living longer with better quality of life and, in many cases, wants to continue participating in the job market. Latin America and the Caribbean is currently experiencing its fastest-ever aging trend, with one out of eight people 60 years old or older. Argentina is one of the four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean where the proportion of older adults exceeds 15.7% of the total population, equivalent to almost 7.1 million people. 

The term “silver economy” has recently been coined to study the many needs and opportunities that this segment of the population represents.  According to the IDB study “Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean”, spending on pensions, health services and long-term care services will increase from 11.7% of the region’s GDP in 2020 to 18.9% in 2050. At the same time, the report notes, many adults over 50 have more opportunities to continue working and consuming, enjoy better physical conditions than their counterparts from decades ago, and have more energy, both to enjoy life and to continue contributing to society with their work or entrepreneurial activities.

“Our region presents very different realities. Just as there are people who need to continue generating income because they do not have a pension, including millions of active workers in the informal economy, there are also people who no longer have an economic need to continue participating in the job market, but have an intellectual need because it fulfills them,” explains IDB Lab’s Molina. Programs like SilverTech, she notes, are helping raise awareness of the opportunities that the silver economy presents and fighting against ageism, or age discrimination, in the workplace.

It has been over a year since Adrián Barreto enrolled in the IT recruitment course at SilverTech, and his determination to reinvent himself has already been rewarded. In one of those curious twists of life, he decided to apply for a job at Eidos Global in early 2024, and now, he is their new alliances coordinator. 

"Today, in retrospect, I am very grateful for the decision, because it allowed me to discover talents that I thought I didn't have or reconnect with talents that I may have had dormant,” he says. 

“I feel that I have managed to rediscover myself.”


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