Introduction to the Digital Inclusion Work Sector
The digital world has evolved exponentially and digital technology continues to provide huge benefits to citizens across all the British-Irish Council (BIC) Member Administrations. These range from making access to government services easier, quicker and cheaper to administer, to applying for jobs and booking your own travel. The opportunities are limitless.
In addition, some of the challenges have evolved with time, such as ensuring individuals can confidently and safely go online, and removing the barriers which prevent people taking their first step online, including issues of accessibility, digital skills, and motivation.
At the twelfth BIC Summit in Cardiff in February 2009, the Council agreed that the Isle of Man Government should take the lead on the Digital Inclusion work sector.
Be Safe – Be Included – Be Connected
The BIC Digital Inclusion work sector has supported Safer Internet Day in recent years, launching a series of infographics to promote Online Safety. Check out their top tips to Be Safe, Be Included and Be Connected.
In 2018 the work sector looked at the issues of digital safety, particularly in respect of young people online and the 5Rights campaign. All of the eight BIC administrations attended a 5Rights event in Scotland, bringing young people together from across the jurisdictions to discuss their digital rights and you can see a short film about their engagement on 5Rights promotion here:
Subsequently, the work sector presented a Ministerial discussion paper to Digital Ministers at the Isle of Man Summit in November 2018, and their discussions focussed on collaboration around digital skills partnerships across the administrations on the 5Rights of the Child in relation to digital safety. They also discussed future challenges and identified priority issues in relation to online safety for the Digital Inclusion work sector including digital rights, digital skills & literacy and partnership working between the Member Administrations.
On this basis, the work sector met in a number of the BIC administrations throughout 2019 and early 2020 to progress their work plan, discuss the latest developments in online safety and share best practice. During each meeting, they also attended a number of site visits and presentations to hear directly from organisations leading in the provision of digital skills training and programmes.
The work sector recently held its second Ministerial meeting on Friday 05 March 2021, which was hosted virtually by the Isle of Man Government. Ministers considered and reflected on two discussion papers prepared by the work sector. The first, ‘Online Safety and Digital Inclusion’ outlined the work under way in the eight Member Administrations in promoting and safeguarding online safety within the context of digital inclusion and digital skills. The second paper, ‘The Evolution of Digital Inclusion’ outlined how the work sector has developed its work to focus on online safety, the digital inclusion issues that arose as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, and how these themes will continue to inform the future work of the work sector.
Ministers also reviewed three infographics, Be Safe, Be Included and Be Connected, which were produced by the work sector to collaborate on awareness raising and promotional material, in line with their agreed areas of focus of Online Safety.
Ministers discussed the benefits and increasing importance of digital participation in everyday life, particularly highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. They recognised the scale of the challenge posed by the pace of technological change, and acknowledged the vital role played by administrations as well as voluntary, community, public sector and private sector organisations in in addressing these challenges.
Ministers agreed that the work sector should continue to collaborate on the themes of promoting online safety and digital skills, addressing digital inclusion across the Member Administrations, and continuing to share best practice in these areas, all with a particular focus on young people and future skills development, as well as working in partnership with the private and third sectors to promote digital inclusion.
In 2017, Ministers discussed and reviewed a paper, ‘Digital Inclusion: Developing Digital Skills’, prepared by the work sector: Digital Inclusion: Developing Digital Skills
Ministers agreed that the key themes of ‘People, Partnership and Policies’ should continue to inform the work of the Digital Inclusion work sector. In particular, the group would focus on collaboration on digital skills and consider how best to engage with large organisations on a cross jurisdictional basis.
Further information may be obtained from each administration. The following is not exhaustive but may prove useful for further reading:
8. Isle of Man