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by Jenni Davidson
13 December 2016
Scottish charities offered £10k to close the digital skills gap

Scottish charities offered £10k to close the digital skills gap

Computer user - Image credit: Fotolia

Scottish charities are being offered grants of up to £10,000 to help to close the digital skills gap.

The Digital Participation Charter Fund, administered by SCVO and supported by the Scottish Government, is used to support projects that train people in basic computer skills in a bid to help tackle inequality.

Around 10 per cent of adults in Scotland have never used the internet and almost one in five do not have basic digital skills, required in 90 per cent of jobs.

Those who lack the skills are often older, poorer or facing some form of disadvantage.


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More low-income households now are accessing the internet by smartphones only, sometimes without fixed line broadband connections.

However, research by Ofcom published in May found that those who were using a ‘smartphone by circumstance’ – because they had no access to other devices or internet connections – would miss some of the benefits of being online and struggle with managing multiple sources of information, typing and printing.

This could affect ability to carry out key tasks such as applying for a job or finding housing.

Over the last two years the Charter fund has supported 84 projects from community organisations, libraries, charities and housing associations across Scotland aimed at getting people online.

The SCVO has said is keen that applicants take on board lessons learned from previous projects.

Priority will be given to projects which can demonstrate a track record of working with people who are facing issues such as poverty, social isolation and other forms of inequality, but previous experience of delivering digital skills training is not required.

Alongside the Charter funding, the SCVO’s One Digital Senior Leadership Programme is also open for entries.

The programme, which this year support 19 senior staff from across the third sector, allows charity leaders to develop their digital skills and confidence to lead their organisations to adopt a digital culture and use digital technologies to improve service delivery.

Supported by the Big Lottery and facilitated by Ross McCulloch, the focus is particularly on supporting leaders from organisations that deliver frontline services designed to reduce social inequalities, and organisations that support groups at risk of digital exclusion.

The training will run over five days from January to May with the majority of learning coming from peer discussion.

David McNeill, Director of Digital at SCVO, said: “The digital revolution has already happened. There is a danger that if charities don’t respond to how people are using new technology and the internet they will fail to be relevant and effective.

“Charities increasingly need to adapt and evolve in order to be fit-for-purpose in a digital world.

“This is critical if we are to effectively meet the needs of people and communities as well as the increasing expectations of our donors.”

The deadline for applications for the current round of Digital Participation Charter funding is 12 January, while the closing date for the One Digital Senior Leadership Programme is 4 January.

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