A start has been made to tackle Ireland’s digital divide through a €1.8m BenefIT 3 scheme involving 20 training projects that could allow 40,000 people to benefit from IT training.
Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte TD pointed out that there are thousands of people living in Ireland today who have been left behind when it comes to the internet.
“These people miss out on opportunities most people now take for granted. For example, those not yet engaged cannot send and receive emails, do a quick internet search to find the information or the products they need on-line, play back the TV or radio programme they missed yesterday online when it suits them or conduct their transactions with Government online saving themselves time, effort and often money
“They don’t have the opportunity to save money by accessing a wider marketplace and often find better deals online or apply for jobs online – where many/most jobs are now advertised and applied for, Rabbitte said.
The grants are based on the evaluation scores earned by the best grant applications using criteria including value for money, geographical accessibility and quality of proposal.
“This important scheme means that 40,000 people will gain from IT training between now and June 2012. The programme is to support those who have not yet gone on-line.
“In particular older people will benefit – as will an estimated 17,000 unemployed people as well as other disadvantaged groups. By supporting community and voluntary organisations to deliver this training we can ensure excellent value for money,” Rabbitte said.
The Minister made the announcement at the presentation of the Silver Surfer Awards which are sponsored by Google in partnership with Age Action Ireland.
Training the digitally excluded
The training will be available at several locations in every county. It is being provided through 20 projects involving over 200 organisations in a wide variety of venues spanning approximately 700 locations.
It involves local authorities, national representative organisations, universities, VECs, trades unions, enterprise and development groups, disability representative groups, job and resource centres as well as a wide range of local groups.
It will involve professional and volunteer trainers – all focusing on the goal of helping people acquire the basic internet skills to do all sorts of things.
This scheme will train as many people as were trained under the two previous schemes combined – and for less money
The Benefit 1 scheme trained approx 32,000 people at a cost of €2.23m, with approximately 7,400 more trained under the BenefIT 2 scheme at a cost of €351,000.
Under the BenefIT 3 scheme 40,000 people will be trained at a cost of €1.88m, an estimated saving of €700,000 less to train a similar number.