Leaving no-one behind, building a fairer Internet, developing the future workforce, being safe and secure online and maximising the opportunities presented by digital are key issues for the third sector, says David McNeill, digital director at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.
In a guest post on the Scottish Government’s digital blog, McNeill outlines what its refreshed digital strategy means for the third sector over the next few years. Digital inclusion in all communities and removing barriers to access in rural areas is required to meet the needs of those who still do not use the Internet or do not have the skills to benefit.
Acknowledging people’s rights and responsibilities in a digital age, allowing young people in particular to access the Internet “creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly,” is an important area, he said. As is designing public services around the needs of users: “With 38% of Scotland’s third sector organisations involved in the delivery of health and social care, with a combined economic contribution of over £1.6bn, many will need to redesign their services for a digital world.”
There is a need to tackle the high-level digital skills shortage, said McNeill. “A range of actions are set out in the Strategy for the formal education sector, but extra-curricular activities are also crucial. Hundreds of volunteers are already supporting children and young people to develop their interest in STEM subjects and the Digital Xtra Fund, now an independent charity, is stimulating the development of coding clubs across the country. This work can also contribute towards Scotland build a more diverse digital workforce.”
McNeill highlights the importance of ‘cyber resilience’: “Third sector organisations should consider whether they have adequate controls to defend against cyber attacks and are confident in their ability to recover quickly should the worst happen.” And he details other areas which will help Scotland “realise its full potential in a digital world”, such as increasing participation and engagement in the democratic process and using open data to support innovation.