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Escaping poverty and building for our future - 20/20 Trust

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

20/20 Trust today released the Digital Inclusion Manifesto: All New Zealanders have affordable access to the internet and the skills and confidence to use digital technologies for learning, for work and for life.

Our research has shown that digital skills provide a unique stepping stone to escape from poverty by improving employment and earning capacity. In 2016/17, 21% 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:

- There are still 120,000 children in year four and above without access to the internet at home

- Government’s new target that 80% of the transactions be fully digital by 2021 is challenging, since many digitally excluded people are high users of government services

- Businesses are in a productivity recession, with GDP per capita flat for the last five years

- Recent research has revealed that 50% of New Zealanders in employment recognise that they need more digital skills to guarantee future employability

The Manifesto sets out eight goals covering:

- Full participation in the digital world.

- Equitable access to digital technologies

- Support to access the internet and develop the necessary skills

- Future-focused digital learning opportunities

- School leavers with work-ready digital skills

- Increased productivity for NZ businesses from digitally skilled staff

- Digital skills for a healthy lifestyle

- Seniors connected with their families and communities.

According to 20/20 Trust Chair, Laurence Millar, there is widespread community support for these goals, but few government-funded programmes specifically address New Zealand’s digital divide. "It is often incorrectly assumed that because everyone seems to have a mobile digital device that they are ‘digitally literate’", he said. "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."

This Digital Inclusion Manifesto has in principle support from a growing number of organisations, including Eastbay REAP, Gisborne District Council, Hui-E, Industry Training Federation, InternetNZ, Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, Ngâ Pûmanawa e Waru, Public Libraries NZ, REAP Aotearoa New Zealand, SeniorNet Federation of New Zealand, Southern REAP, Spark New Zealand, Tairawhiti Technology Trust, Taranaki eLearning Trust , Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand (TUANZ), Web Access Waikato Trust, WestREAP and Whanganui Chamber of Commerce. Other organisations are expected to give their support in the coming weeks.

"Every political party should make clear their policy on digital inclusion. We look forward to a dialogue with the next government on how New Zealand can achieve full digital inclusion" concluded Mr Millar.

A full copy of the Manifesto and our suggestions about actions that government could take can be downloaded from our website

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