Computing NZ Ltd (CNZL) is lobbying for the government to improve digital literacy as part of its Digital Strategy initiative. Citing overseas and local studies, the NZ Computer Society subsidiary says better computer literacy will improve productivity in the workplace. General manager Rebecca Boyce could give few details last week of the approach CNZL will be taking with the architects of the Digital Strategy. “At the moment, we’re just saying [computer literacy] should be included as part of the Digital Strategy,” she says. “We’re working with the Aotearoa People’s Network,” she says. The network makes free PCs, which feature both applications and internet connections, available in libraries. ICDL and e-Citizen courses are also being provided through the network, which currently has 12 sites. These are scheduled to triple to 36 later this year. Computing NZ was set up by the Computer Society in 1997, to improve the state of digital literacy in New Zealand. It does this primarily by promoting internationally recognised courses, the International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) and the e-Citizen qualification. Low productivity has often been fingered as a key element in New Zealand’s relatively poor economic performance internationally. Asked to provide evidence of a link, Boyce sent material from a study conducted with the UK’s National Health Service. People who took the ICDL course became demonstrably more productive, saving on average “38 minutes a day per person”, says the study. “Staff asking for IT support per week decreased from 44% to less than 10%.” User polls also found a measurable increase in subjectively perceived confidence in handling technology. In New Zealand, elder-care venture the Selwyn Foundation has put its staff, largely self-taught in computer skills, through ICDL courses with similarly positive results, Boyce says. Through the NZCS, CNZL is well placed to influence the formulation of the Digital Strategy. NZCS has a seat at the table of the Digital Development Forum guiding the strategy.
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