Broad confidence in technology is essential for the competitive position of the Netherlands, according to FME, the employers’ organisation for the technology industry. “But many people lack imagination about what they can do with technology themselves, so there is still a lot of work to be done”, says Cordula van Klink, who is responsible for UpgradeNL, the project that will try to propagate this so-needed imagination. Much of that missionary work will take place in and around the Dutch Technology Week.
“Young people – especially girls – do not usually choose a career in technology in the Netherlands”, Van Klink observes soberly. “And that’s something we can be quite worried about. No other country in Europe is performing as badly as we are. I really don’t understand anything about that. Young people have little appreciation for tech. They use it a lot, but are not aware of what technology can do for them, in daily life but also as a career.” The campaign slogan ‘Make Tech Yours’ also comes from there: “If you master technology, you can make your daily life – and even the world – better. So: make tech yours!”
The major theme campaign, which will start later this month, will also be used to further expand the target group of the Dutch Technology Week. “Already now there is a huge reach among tech-minded people. That’s great, but it’s even better if we could reach the whole of the Netherlands. We want to start a movement to make the Netherlands tech savvy. In short: a real UpgradeNL.”
According to Van Klink, there are three main goals associated with UpgradeNL. First of all, people should be able to experience as widely as possible what technology can mean for them. For example during the DTW, preferably in a national setting. The second line is education, the most important example of which is the AI-course, which started at the beginning of this year and will soon be continued in a child-friendly version. “We want to give the whole of the Netherlands the opportunity to bring their basic knowledge of artificial intelligence up to standard. This is extremely important, especially for people who are less tech-proof.” Finally, from 23 April there will be a public campaign, for which Van Klink indicates that girls in secondary education form the primary target group, but that the whole of the Netherlands should also feel attracted to this. An appealing campaign video should make clear what the Netherlands can gain from a more tech-savvy society.