The emergence and development of digital technology over the last 20 years has had a profound effect on people and the way they live. As more aspects of society become dependent on digital resources, there is pressure on individuals to be able to use and interact with them. This increases the need for digital skills.
Bridging the Gap – Ireland’s Digital Divide research report delves into this issue more deeply. We found that 42 percent of Irish people describe themselves as being’ below average’ for digital skills. This highlights a gap in digital literacy that exists within the country. We found that age, social class, region and level of education is closely correlated with levels of digital skills. In our video we hear from people on just how important digital literacy is in today’s world.
"If stakeholders come together to tackle the divide, digital skills could become an equaliser in Ireland, empowering the disadvantaged with skills that will make them more active participants in society."
— Vicky Godolphin, Managing Director and Digital Divide Sponsor – Accenture in Ireland
What are the barriers to digital inclusion?
People with ‘below average’ digital competency face two obstacles; the motivation to improve their digital literacy and the access to services that will improve their digital literacy.
of people with poor digital skills don’t see a need to improve.
of people surveyed say they ‘don’t know where to learn’.
"The uncomfortable truth is that Ireland's new digital society is not a fair society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. This is a problem we must all own if we are to build a more inclusive society for a better Ireland and more sustainable future."
— Mark Brown, Director – National Institute for Digital Learning
Facilitating digital inclusion
Providing more learning opportunities and tackling what people think they can and can’t do is essential if Ireland is to bridge the divide and create a more equal society. The experience of other countries and inputs from key stakeholders’ point to an approach revolving around 3 C’s.
By establishing a common national framework, a more consolidated, non-siloed approach to digital literacy can be achieved to help manage the gap.
Arming people with skills to bridge the gap and changing the curriculum will better prepare citizens for the digital world.
An inclusive campaign that speaks to all citizens will raise national awareness of the digital divide and directly communicate learning opportunities.
If stakeholders can work to narrow the divide, Ireland could lead the way by making digital an equaliser rather than an inhibitor, empowering the digitally disadvantaged with skills that will make them more active participants in society and a tech-driven economy. Societal problems like loneliness could be tackled by digital skills, not exacerbated by their absence. If we don’t improve, social exclusion and class divides will harden as more activity moves online.