The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and Google have combined to tackle digital exclusion in Scotland.
The pair this week launched the Google Digital Garage Bus, which will tour the country five days a week until the end of September with the aim of reaching more than 50 locations. The internet company will work alongside third sector organisations, such as the SCVO, to build on existing projects that are working to provide people with digital skills.
Attending the launch in Glasgow was Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who said that continued support was needed to ensure that Scotland’s population could excel online.
Sturgeon said: "Digital technology is connecting us faster than before and transforming the way we live, which is why it’s crucial that everyone has the opportunity and support to keep up with the pace of change.
"By providing digital training to communities across the central belt, the Google Digital Garage Bus will provide people with the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential while helping to grow Scotland’s economy."
The launch of the bus comes after the sixth round of awards totalling £220,000 made by the SCVO’s Digital Participation Charter Fund to 150 projects across Scotland, helping people get online and develop basic digital skills. Although Scotland is regarded as a "digital nation", recent recent research by the SCVO in conjunction with the University of the West of Scotland found that about 21 per cent of adults do not have those basic digital skills.
David McNeill, the SCVO’s digital director, said that his organisation’s research had shown that approaches to overcoming digital exclusion must be "embedded in wider strategies".
He said: "People who aren’t online and lack basic digital skills are more likely to face multiple other forms of social exclusion. It is crucial that we ensure no one is left behind in our increasingly digital world.
"The Charter Fund has enabled community projects to help more than 15,000 people to access technology and the internet, complementing projects such as the Google Digital Garage Bus, as work continues to reduce the digital divide in Scotland."