“Community and Voluntary sectors providing key role in helping to bridge the digital divide” –White
Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Alex White T.D., has today invited applications from community, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations for grants to assist with the cost of providing internet training for citizens and communities.
An additional €400,000 has been made available under the Department’s “BenefIT” scheme, which has already provided training to over 100,000 people in over 600 locations nationwide.
The scheme trains people in basic internet usage including email, social media, video calling, government services, online banking, TV playback and a range of other applications.
Commenting on the additional funding allocation and call for proposals Minister White said “The Statement of Government Priorities for the period 2014 to 2015 puts an emphasis on the digital economy, which has real potential to impact on recovery and jobs. Equally it gives a strong commitment to social recovery. As the internet becomes more integral to the fabric of society, empowering citizens to use technology is therefore an important priority”.
The Minister noted that the community and voluntary sector has been proactive in working with the Department to help older people, the unemployed and people with disabilities avail of the opportunities which the internet presents. “Many of these organisations are delivering quality training for citizens and in communities. This is critically important in helping to bridge the digital divide and ensuring that nobody is left behind” Minister White said.
“The National Digital Strategy is a tangible demonstration of Government’s ambition to realise the full economic and social benefits of a digital society. Last month, the Trading Online Voucher Scheme opened for business nationally. This will assist businesses, particularly in rural communities, to get a meaningful online trading presence, allowing them to grow markets and prosper” Minister White said. Citizens are also a key focus, and the Strategy aims to convert almost 300,000 citizens from “non-liners” to “onliners” over a two year period. “The extension of the “BenefIT” scheme will allow us to reach even further into communities, helping people to benefit from the social connectivity, cost savings and efficiencies that the internet offers” Minister White concluded.
The Minister added that the National Broadband Plan is also a top priority for Government. “The twin-track approach of the National Broadband Plan and National Digital Strategy aims to ensure that all citizens, communities and business have access to high quality internet, and the ability to realise the full benefits of this connectivity” Minister White said.
Note to Editors
Further information on the scheme, including eligibility, objectives and the application process are set out in the “Guidelines” document which along with application forms can be found on the Department’s website at:http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Knowledge+Society/BenefIT/BenefIT+Digital+Skills+Training+Grant+Scheme.htm