The 20/20 trust, a charity promoting ‘digital inclusion’ for New Zealand citizens, has released its Digital Inclusion Manifesto calling for all New Zealanders to have affordable access to the internet and the skills and confidence to use digital technologies for learning, for work and for life.
The move comes just days after the Trust in collaboration with InternetNZ released an online, interactive map that displays the ‘digital divide’ by showing areas of low, medium and high internet access and broadband penetration, correlated with areas ranked similarly for skills and social wellbeing.
Release of the manifesto also follows the Government’s announcement that it has updated its Result 10 target and now aims to have 80 percent of transactions for the 20 most common public services fully digital by 2021. The trust points out that many digitally excluded people are high users of government services.
It says its research shows that digital skills provide a unique stepping stone to escape from poverty by improving employment and earning capacity: in 2016/17, 21 percent of participants in the Trust’s digital literacy programmes secured a job within 12 months.
“Many other factors make digital inclusion essential for our nation’s future,” it says. “There are still 120,000 children in year four and above without access to the internet at home; 50 percent of New Zealanders in employment recognise that they need more digital skills to guarantee future employability.”
20/20 Trust chair, Laurence Millar, said there was widespread community support for the goals set out in the manifesto but few government-funded programmes that specifically address New Zealand’s digital divide. “Our Manifesto calls on government to prioritise digital inclusion and skills as a core element of all its programmes, for education, for employment, for business and for every aspect of New Zealanders’ lives.”
He called on every political party to “make clear their policy on digital inclusion.
The manifesto sets out eight goals, accompanied by a recommendation for Government action to help achieve it.
1. All people living in New Zealand are able to fully participate in the digital world.
2. All New Zealanders have equitable access to digital technologies and online services to enhance their lives, irrespective of geographic location or ability.
3. ‘At-risk’ families are supported with access to the internet and the necessary skills to make effective use of online services.
4. Children have access to future-focused digital learning opportunities, including online access from their homes and digitally literate whānau to support their learning.
5. School leavers are equipped with work-ready skills, including digital skills.
6. New Zealand businesses employ digitally skilled people to improve productivity.
7. New Zealanders can use their digital skills to maintain a healthy lifestyle and respond positively to social challenges.
8. New Zealand seniors have access to digital technologies and the digital skills to remain connected with their families and communities.