Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills
- 2 June 2021
- Topics: Economic Social
- Types: Press Releases
1st June 2021
Covid-19 lockdowns have seen so much of how we live, work and play move online. There has been a dramatic shift to digital and this is likely to grow in importance in the years to come. However, a new report from NESC, Digital Inclusion in Ireland: Connectivity, Devices & Skills shows that that there are groups who remain poorly engaged with digital technologies. In particular, it highlights those who are older, have lower levels of education, lower incomes, and live in rural areas; as well as smaller businesses and farms.
The NESC report argues that a digital inclusion strategy would help address the ‘digital’ needs of people in these key groups. Doing so would build on Ireland’s large investment in broadband connectivity. It would also help companies, particularly micro-businesses, compete effectively with other small open economies. And critically in the years to come it could be a key means of combatting social exclusion.
Dr Anne-Marie McGauran, author of the report, explains that “Digital inclusion has three key dimensions: connectivity to broadband, access to devices, and the skills and confidence to engage digital technologies. The report shows disparities in these by region, income, age and education level, and these differences are reinforcing existing inequalities. International studies also show that there is no guarantee that the severity of digital divides will shrink without concerted policy action.”
The report highlights that there are several State policies focused on digital technologies. There are also a range of state agency, business and community programmes. There is a need to co-ordinate across these polices and programmes if digital inclusion is to improve. The report recommends a stand-alone digital inclusion strategy should be developed. It also recommends a comprehensive framework for digital skills progression and certification. It highlights the need for targeted supports for key groups, including those with low incomes, and smaller businesses and farms. Finally, it argues that enhanced guidance is needed to develop digital public services which are easily accessed by all, and assisted-digital public services for the groups who will continue to face difficulties going online.
The report will be launched at an event on 1 July 2021. Further details of this launch can be found here.
Note to Editors
For further information please contact Anne-Marie McGauran,
About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)
The National Economic & Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973. NESC is an expert advisory and consultative body, focusing on strategic economic, social and environmental policies. It analyses and reports to the Taoiseach on challenging policy issues and addresses the public system and the institutional challenges related to implementation, monitoring and learning. It is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach. The members of the Council are appointed by the Taoiseach, for a three year term. They are representatives of business and employers’ organisations, trade unions, agricultural and farming organisations, community and voluntary organisations, and environmental organisations; as well as heads of Government departments and independent experts. The Council has published 154 agreed reports on a wide range of policy issues, as well as research papers by its professional Secretariat and other experts.
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