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How Digital Nation Wants to Fix the Country of Contrasts: Top Tech Talent, Yet Lowest Digital Skills

How Digital Nation Wants to Fix the Country of Contrasts: Top Tech Talent, Yet Lowest Digital Skills,
Image credit: Paul Apostol, founder Digital Nation
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In today’s fast-paced digital world, the convergence of technology and education is essential for shaping the future workforce.

Recognizing this need, the Romanian organization Digital Nation took on the mission to address the disparity between the country’s vast pool of tech talent and its lower-than-average basic digital skills in the EU.

Founded in 2013 by tech professional Paul Apostol, Digital Nation is an educational initiative that empowers students, teachers, and other professionals to acquire the digital skills that traditional education often overlooks.

Digital Nation’s approach is rooted in peer and community learning, driving various programs that cater to people of all ages.

“We have three age groups for our programs: students between 16 and 19 years old, those entering the workforce for the first time between 19 and 23, and young professionals aged 23 to 32. However, throughout the years, we also had people over 55 years old who performed very well,” says Apostol.


Studying from home or from the hub?


A cornerstone of Digital Nation’s strategy is its community hubs, strategically located across different cities. These hubs are designed to be innovation incubators where learners, educators, and professionals can converge to share ideas and collaborate on projects.

“Our hubs serve as vibrant, innovation-centric spaces where learners and professionals can come together, collaborate, and access different resources, including mentors,” Apostol explains.

What sets Digital Nation apart is its commitment to inclusivity, ensuring that people from all backgrounds have access to quality education and resources. This focus includes working with individuals from smaller cities, who often face greater challenges in accessing educational or job opportunities.

“We don’t want to focus only on the big cities of Romania like Bucharest and Cluj. Instead, we plan to open 12 hubs in the next 2 years in the smaller cities. This way you can work remotely from our space for a company from Bucharest, Berlin, London, or elsewhere. Now we have two finalized hubs, in Brasov and Piatra Neamt,” Apostol shares.

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Enhancing learning trough events


To further enhance community engagement, Digital Nation organizes numerous events, including tech festivals and workshops. These events are essential in bringing together diverse groups of people, from students to seasoned professionals, to learn from each other and develop new skills.

“Once a year, we organize a festival where we gather our students, or better said, explorers. We will have it this year in August, in Brasov. It is a mix between learning, meeting mentors, and fun. It gets very emotional.”


The AI friend you didn’t know you need


Digital Nation’s educational experience is deeply rooted in community, intrinsic motivation, and the simplicity of the curriculum. Besides offering some programs free of charge, supported by corporations or governmental bodies, Digital Nation has recently introduced Saro, a motivational AI assistant, to enhance the learning experience.

Saro aims to transform the way students learn by addressing the growing challenge of maintaining engagement and interest in education amidst the distractions of technology and social media. The solution recently received a $700k grant from The company previously invested themselves $150k in research and prototyping.

An internal survey by Digital Nation revealed that 90% of students wished they had been more involved in their courses. Saro monitors student interactions on learning platforms daily, engaging with them to assess their motivation levels. This data allows Saro to intervene proactively, helping prevent students from abandoning their studies for other activities. Additionally, the AI gathers valuable data for teachers and mentors, providing insights into each student’s motivation, as well as feedback on teaching quality and course difficulty.

Saro has been tested with groups in Generation Tech courses, showing promising results. Students who interacted with Saro were 41% more likely to complete their homework compared to those who received traditional email or SMS reminders.

“Our vision for Saro is to become a personal learning coach that guides individuals through their educational journey, providing tailored recommendations to support their goals. By offering personalized learning paths, Saro can help learners identify their strengths and areas for improvement, enabling them to achieve their full potential,” Apostol explains.

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To further improve Saro and support more young students in enhancing their digital skills, Digital Nation is actively seeking partnerships with universities, schools, corporates, and public institutions.

“Our collaborations with educational institutions are crucial in ensuring that Saro integrates seamlessly into existing systems, providing maximum benefit with minimal disruption,” Paul concludes.


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Elena is a Startup Community Editor at The Recursive. In other words, she keeps close to the startup ecosystem in CEE and makes their stories heard. She creates educational and informational content about innovation, funding and startup growth.