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Action 66 in Ireland flag Ireland

Member States to promote long-term e-skills and digital literacy policies

Indicator Status Evidence
Does an explicit strategy document exist? - National Digital Strategy for Ireland is currently in development, a strategy to develop practical measures to ensure that Ireland can and will grasp more of the opportunities presented by digital. A key focus of the strategy will be adoption of digital by businesses and by citizens.
Is there funding for digital literacy/e-skills projects and programmes (including EU funding)? Yes The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) provides grant assistance to community and voluntary sector organisations to support projects providing basic internet use training. These schemes known as BenefIT (Benefit from Information Technology) build on earlier schemes. Between them the 3 schemes will have trained almost 100,000 people. The most recent scheme (BenefIT 3) awarded grants amounting to €1.88m to 19 organisations. Between them they will involve over 200 organisations, providing training in over 700 locations in all 26 counties to approx 40,000 people (between October 2011 and late 2012). Further information on the BenefIT scheme is available at www.einclusion.ie
Are there special programmes encouraging women, older workers ethnic minorities and other target groups to use ICT? Yes One of the criteria of eligibility for grants under the BenefIT 3 scheme required that the training be directed to people who have not previously engaged with the knowledge society through computer or through internet use and who were a member of one of the 4 target groups: (1) Older people (aged 55 or more), (2) Unemployed people, (3) People who have had less formal education or who have no formal qualifications, or (4) Disadvantaged people – which may include:- people with disabilities, those living alone – particularly in rural areas, single parents, travellers, ex-prisoners, immigrants.
Are there special programmes targeting employees (especially older workers and SMEs)? Yes Ireland’s future economic growth can and should be more strongly fuelled by digital. Business adoption of digital is crucially important. The National Strategy Strategy will focus strongly on SME’s. Right now only a small minority of small and medium sizes businesses here are transacting or trading on-line. There are already initiatives underway. For example there is the “Get Irish Business On-line” initiative involving Google, An Post and other key players. The (City and County) Enterprise Boards are also providing training nationally to help businesses avail of the opportunities the internet presents. The Digital Hub and the Digital Skills Academy have shown the success and potential of initiatives like WebActivate and Web Elevate.
Is ICT being integrated in classroom teaching and vocational training? Yes Since 1998, the Department of Education has actively pursued the integration of ICT into teaching and learning and the development of pupils' digital literacy, primarily through its in ICT in Schools programme. This Programme addresses the use of ICT in primary and post primary education and is currently guided by the 2008 ICT Strategy Report and the 2009 Smart Schools = Smart Economy Report. These reports sets out a clear agenda to be pursued and significant progress has been made on implementation of the recommendations of these reports. The ICT in Schools Programme focuses on four main priorities – ICT infrastructure in schools, the Schools Broadband Scheme, the development of teacher skills, and the provision of curriculum-relevant digital content. €92m in devolved ICT infrastructure grants were provided to schools between November 2009 and December 2010. Schools were asked to prioritise the deployment of a digital projector and a teaching computer in each classroom. Post-primary schools were asked to prioritise classrooms used to teach Maths. A number of key support measures were taken to help schools fully integrate the newly acquired technology, in particular the delivery of a national series of elearning seminars for school leaders, and the provision of extensive guidance and training on the use of ICT in the classroom. The availability of broadband through the Schools Broadband Programme further ensures ICT is integrated in education. Under the Programme connectivity to the internet is routed through a National Broadband Network which provides centrally managed services for schools such as security, anti-spam/anti-virus and content filtering. Access to digital resources such as on-line versions of Britannica are also only available through the Schools Broadband Network. On foot of a Government decision in 2011 all post primary schools will receive a 100mbps broadband connection. This high speed broadband will further facilitate the integration of ICT and e-learning. The ICT in Schools programme continues to adapt to the new policy challenges and opportunities arising from major developments in curricular reform, digital publishing, digital content dissemination tools generally, cloud services, portable computing and student devices, and the deployment of high speed broadband at post-primary level. In relation to voationcal training ICT features prominently across the range of Further Education provision and is provided by the nationwide network of Vocational Education Committees (VECs). Participants undertake programmes in ICT for both personal and vocational reasons. ICT skills development is a primary component of FETAC awards. There were over 40,000 participants on full-time programmes and over 140,000 participants on part-time programmes in 2011. Recently issued national operational guidelines for adult literacy and the Back to Education Initiative note the importance of enhancing ICT skills and integrating ICT modules into courses. In November 2010 a once off grant of €2 million was provided to PLC providers for the purchase of ICT equipment and funding was also provided for Youthreach centres to equip their classrooms with appropriate technology, to enhance teaching and learning and to help meet the needs of the ‘Smart Economy’. To underpin its new training strategy, FÁS (Irish employment authority which promotes job opportunities and training courses for school leavers, post graduates and professionals) has reclassified and regrouped its existing course category framework into a career-themed approach to training (career training clusters), which will evolve on an on-going basis as new skills and occupations emerge. The process of re-organising all training provision into this career cluster framework will be implemented in 2012. Information technology has been identified as a Cluster. This includes Digital Media, Gaming and Telecommunications.
Are there programms offering ICT skills trainings in telecentres, public libraries and other informal environments? Yes Some of the training which has taken place under the BenefIT schemes has taken place in informal venues such as libraries, resource centres and mobile training units.

Best Practice Case

Webactivate - In 2010, Digital Skills Academy, supported by The Digital Hub, designed and delivered the pilot for a ground-breaking programme, WebActivate, to provide small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) throughout Ireland with an effective online presence, while simultaneously creating employment for hundreds of people across the country. The results of the pilot was very encouraging - pointing to the potential in this area. Of those that completed the training 56% were in employment (most as freelancer/sole trader) 3 months after completing the programme. At end of pilot approximately 250 companies had live websites as a result of the programme and initial indications from these SMEs indicate the positive impacts the on-line move has meant for them. For businesses the pilot activation programme has produced:- Better Customer Service, New Revenues, new Customers and New Markets for these companies – leading to further job creation. A further benefit of web activating small businesses is the potential to positively impact on balance of payments. With an estimated €3 billion spent on line annually by Irish consumers much of this spend is currently going outside Ireland. Increasing the web capabilities of Irish businesses should contribute to more of that spend going to Irish companies as well as attracting spend to Irish companies from abroad. See the following youtube clip for more information - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-GbOB_yHS4

Other initiatives:

Details of other eInclusion or digital literacy initiatives in Ireland are available on the website of the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Communications/Knowledge+Society/Digital+Inclusion/) including Irish Internet Association’s (IIA) “Digitise the Nation”, Age Action Ireland’s “Getting Started” Programme, and Google’s “Log On Learn” Programme.

External contribution

External contributions are more than welcome. If you would like to share with us a country, regional or local-level initiative relevant for this DAE action, you can do it via the online form.