Get Yourself Online campaign to boost the digital skills and confidence of adults across Ireland
An Cosán’s Get Yourself Online campaign aims to boost the digital skills and confidence of adults across Ireland.
By working with our network of 220+ community partners across the country, it is hoped our Get Yourself Online initiative will go a long way to helping Ireland achieve the EU target of at least 80% of adults with basic digital skills by 2030.*
We launched the campaign with a ‘Digital Equity Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow’ webinar on Monday 25 April 2022. Over 120 people representing community organisations across the country registered for the webinar.
The webinar highlighted the digital divide – almost one in two adults in Ireland lack basic digital skills** – but also recognised the momentum that is building for State, corporate and community sectors to work together to equip and empower adults across Ireland with the digital skills required to fully participate in our increasingly digital world.
In a video message, Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said the launch of our campaign 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,” he said. “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.”
He continued, “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.”
An Cosán CEO Heydi Foster welcomed Minister Harris’s support and his commitment to working collaboratively with the community and corporate sectors to achieve digital equity. She said it was necessary to work collectively to reach those furthest behind first to build their digital skills and confidence.
Ms Foster described digital equity as the recognition that all individuals and communities had different circumstances and that some needed help with digital skills and IT resources to reach the equal outcome necessary for full participation in society, democracy and economy. “Digital skills and resources are necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services,” she said. “They are critical to ensure that no-one, and no community, is left behind.”
Highlighting the gender disparity of digital equity, Ms Foster said, when women had digital access and skills, they could access education, health, financial services and better paid jobs, lifting them and their families out of poverty. “If we are to ensure that our society is truly equal, women must be empowered, encouraged and supported to embrace the benefits of technology,” she said. “They must be given the tools to engage fully as digital citizens.”
Ms Foster said the pandemic had taught us that we could never again doubt that we’re tough enough to take on the biggest and most intractable problems. “We can all now see that if we work collectively and with purpose, we can succeed,” she said. “We must ensure we continue to strive to reach those furthest behind first and start the process of building their confidence around digital competence …
“We must continue together to strive for at least 80% digital inclusion by 2030, so that they have the equity of opportunity that technology and digital skills offers. In one generation, this change will spread out to equip women, families and communities with the skills, knowledge and empowerment they need to escape poverty forever. This is our One Generation Solution. Together, we can, and will succeed.”
Paul Finnis, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance, spoke about how the aim of our Get Yourself Online campaign aligned with the Digital Poverty Alliance’s quest to end digital poverty in the UK by 2030.
Katie Maguire, Management Consulting Manager at Accenture Ireland, presented insights from Accenture’s report ‘Towards a Digital Society’, which explores the issues that have emerged for the digital divide post-Covid and how Accenture is adopting a ‘Protect, Access, Connect and Educate’ approach to tackling the digital divide in order to create a more inclusive and diverse workforce.
Jemma Lee, Senior Support and Development Officer at Léargas, shared how adult and community educators can develop their digital inclusion skills through courses, job shadowing etc. with Erasmus Plus and about the opportunities to connect with community educators all over the EU with EPALE Ireland.
There were wonderful contributions too from members of our digital and technical staff and from learners and graduates too, sharing how An Cosán has helped them develop their digital skills and confidence. We will be sharing their stories on our website and social media in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out!
Find out more about our campaign on our Get Yourself Online page >> https://www.ancosan.ie/getyourselfonline/.
*The European Commission’s digital strategy ‘Digital Compass 2030’
** The Adult Literacy For Life Strategy