The Scottish Government has announced plans to provide 23,000 people with new online skills and training to help improve their chances of securing a job or to reduce isolation.
The £26 million Connecting Scotland programme, which helps those on lower incomes and groups like the elderly, will offer online training skills as well as providing people with devices like iPads and Chromebooks, and unlimited data for two years.
This builds upon previous funding aimed at helping more people access the internet, include those who were at high risk from Covid-19, care home residents, disadvantaged families with children and young people leaving care. This latest funding also provides an existing group of 36,000 recipients with another year of unlimited data.
Connecting Scotland is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and local authorities in collaboration with a broad range of local, public and third sector organisations. Individuals can be nominated to receive a device by local public or third sector organisations.
“With technology playing an increasingly important role in our society, ensuring people can get online and have the right skills and training is even more important to Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic,” said Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes. “This investment will help thousands of people get online, making sure they are not further disadvantaged by providing the necessary hardware, data, and skills they need to get connected and get the skills they need to enter the workforce.”
Since launching in May 2020 the programme has delivered to over 36,000 households including 17,289 families with children, 8,061 people isolating, 4120 young care leavers, 4899 older and disabled people and 1695 with other vulnerabilities.
There will be two application routes, one aimed at boosting employability and a fast-track process targeting those isolated as a result of the pandemic, particularly single parents, older or disabled people.
James is the Editor of Government Transformation magazine, and has been covering digital government and public sector reform for 20 years. He also oversees the development of the agenda for the UK's biggest public sector transformation conference.