Launch today of Ireland’s first national Digital Inclusion WeekPadraig Conlon 25 Apr 2022
Ireland’s first national digital inclusion week, which is being organised by An Cosán, aims to highlight the nation’s digital divide and help set Ireland on track to achieving the European Union target of every member state having at least 80% of adults with digital skills by 2030.*
An Cosán launched its national Get Yourself Online campaign with a webinar ‘Digital Equity Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’ at 10am today. Already over 100 community educators and representatives from community organisations across the country have registered to attend.
Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, has provided an address to the participants: “As we put more resources into these areas, we want to work together,” he said.
“We want to work cross-society, we want to work with Government, we want to work with NGOs, we want to work with community educators, we want to work with industry, we want to work with everybody who shares our view and our vision that nobody in this country should be left behind, nobody in this country should be excluded or blocked out from reaching their full potential based on their circumstances.
“I know, when we work together, we are going to achieve this. I know events like this webinar and weeks like this Digital Inclusion Week are key to sparking conversations, building connections and taking next steps.”
Minister Harris also congratulates An Cosán and its Chief Executive Officer, Heydi Foster, for organising the country’s first national Digital Inclusion week, saying that it “couldn’t have come at a better time”:
“Over the past two years we have seen our lives disrupted, and somewhat forever changed, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the acceleration of digital change.
“One of the biggest changes in our daily lives has definitely been the frequency with which we now use digital technologies in every aspect of our lives and we now have opportunities to learn, to connect and to work like never before.”
“The pandemic has definitely accelerated the transition to a digital society, faster perhaps than anyone could ever have imagined.
“However, as we emerge from the pandemic – or at least the health emergency part – as an increasingly digitalised society, it is important to be aware that not everyone has the same level of digital access or digital skills and, if we don’t address this, we run a very serious risk of blocking people out of full societal, economic and educational participation.”
Minister Harris will welcome in particular Accenture’s contribution to the webinar in relation to its report ‘Towards A Digital Society’ and its new Digital Index barometer, which will herewith track Ireland’s progress in closing the digital divide: “We appreciate these valuable real-time insights from industry. A key tenet from my own Department, as we respond to our shared challenge, is to ensure that we have the appropriate skills to continue to develop as an economy and a society, and that there is a partnership between education and enterprise.”
Currently almost one in two adults in Ireland lack basic digital skills, according to the Government’s ‘Adult Literacy for Life’ Strategy launched last September.
It is hoped that enabling adult learners currently lacking basic digital skills to get online confidently and safely will help Ireland reach the European Union target of 80% of adults with digital skills by 2030.*
Speaking ahead of the webinar, An Cosán Chief Executive Officer Heydi Foster said, “In order to eradicate poverty in our most marginalised communities, our focus at An Cosán has always been on helping those furthest behind first, especially women. We were pioneers of online and blended learning long before the arrival of Covid. With the support of our sponsors – Accenture, our public funder SOLAS, and our community partners – we are working to promote digital inclusion by improving digital literacy and building confidence around digital competence”.
With a national network of 226 community partners, An Cosán’s campaign aims to reach thousands of adult learners across the country in the coming months with events taking place to raise awareness and help adults get online confidently and safely.
Community digital champions have been signing up to help raise awareness and roll out the campaign in their localities and availing of An Cosán digital resources to provide digital skills checks and other online supports being made available.
The hashtag #GetYourselfOnline will be shared on social media to help recruit many more in the coming months.
Calling for community organisations and educators across the country to sign up and join our campaign,An Cosán CEO, Ms Foster says: “Our Get Yourself Online campaign will give community organisations around Ireland the opportunity to learn more about digital equity and how to encourage and support adult learners to develop digital skills.
“We will connect them to best practice in digital inclusion research and train them to utilise An Cosán’s free digital inclusion tools, which will help empower them to take action on digital skills issues locally.
“We will continue to work with government and corporates to come up with creative solutions to equip and empower people to help them improve their prospects.”
To find out more about Get Yourself Online Week, see www.ancosan.ie/getyourselfonline.
* The European Commission’s digital strategy ‘Digital Compass 2030’