The e-Government paradox
The high-level e-Government conference titled ” Where we are, where we are going” took place in Vilnius, Lithuania last 14th November in the context of the Lithuanian presideny of the EU and saw Telecentre Europe Director, Chair and two members present their organisations and activities in the session “Inclusive e-Government”. The session was the most focused one on citizen access and adoption of e-Government services.
The first speaker, Mr. Gianluca Misuraca from IPTS (a research centre of the European Commission), called the attention of the audience to the “e-government paradox”: although the offer of e-Government services in Europe has reached saturation for most common online services, the users (citizens and to a lesser extent businesses) are still more likely to use traditional methods to interact with the government.
Inclusive e-Government was defined by TE’s Director Gabriel Rissola as including all category of citizens as e-Government users (paying particular attention to those harder to reach) and focusing online government services on citizens’ concrete and more demanded needs (e.g. access to jobs or other). Both speakers stressed the fact that e-Inclusion intermediaries, like telecentres, play a crucial role to create bridges with governments and facilitate adoption of e-Services. As can be seen from the recently published MIREIA survey
, telecentres and other e-inclusion intermediaries already play a significant role in approaching citizens to e-Government, specifically those that may be at risk of digital exclusion.
Some examples of existing services that were mentioned are:
- Access to e-Government information and services for those who can´t afford it
- Providing information in easy-to-understand language and with personal guidance with for example short videos on the use of e-Government services
- Specific information services for youth, unemployed and disadvantaged groups such as helping them find work
- Helping SMEs to use e-Government services
As a relevant country example, Denmark aspires to be digital by default which implies that an 80% of the communications between government and citizens should take place online by 2015. As a result, telecentres and libraries are increasingly supplying training in e-government, while a number of public and private eInclusion projects are now focused on the use of e-government services by SMEs, young people or senior citizens, to name a few.
The MIREIA survey also highlighted that more than 50% of e-inclusion intermediaries are run by public bodies (libraries, municipal centres) and that therein lies the opportunity to facilitate the e-participation of citizens especially those at risk. Another opportunity for joining efforts between e-inclusion intermediaries and government ca be found in the Local Coalitions for Digital Jobs, which are partnerships between governments, the ICT industry and the civil society and are promoted by telecentre networks across European Countries.
The other two speakers, Mara Jakobsone from LIKTA and Manus Hanratty from FIT illustrated how their organisations are promoting e-government and partnering with governments through the Local Coalitions they lead in Latvia and Ireland respectively. For conference presentations and videos, please go here.
Telecentre Multimedia Academy (TMA), a project co-funded by the European Commission and implemented by Telecentre-Europe, aims at providing media literacy to adult learners.
The project now presents two major deliverables developed during its first year. Firstly, there is a comparative report
summarising the existing media literacy training offers for adult learners in Europe. It also identifies the needs of “customers” (trainees in adult education centres and education institutions). It will be useful for any organisation wishing to understand the needs of adult learners in the field of media literacy. Read here a short Summary
of the report.
The second deliverable is the so- called Learning Pathway
for adult learners, which details the framework curriculum to be developed and applied in the second year of the TMA project. Two courses will be offered for learners: a basic and an advanced course on media literacy. The basic course will help students to acquire theoretical basics of multimedia production, including digital sound, digital photography and digital video. The advanced course will familiarize students with the methods of project planning, creation and distribution of media content for teaching and learning with digital media technologies. The TMA consortium will start offering pilot training courses in 7 countries from April 2014.
New study uncovers the crucial role played by thousands of European organisations in promoting digital inclusion in Europe
The lack of basic ICT skills in certain population groups and the need for affordable access in specific geographical areas are responsible in part for the digital exclusion of as many as 30% of Europeans. A new study commissioned by the JRC to Telecentre-Europe and the University of Washington titled “Mapping e-inclusion actors in EU27” has found that around 250.000 organisations in Europe may play a vital role in fighting digital exclusion and thus changing this trend for the better.
The study surveyed almost 3.000 respondent organisations, which constitute the first “European Union e-Inclusion map”. Public libraries, municipal and city offices, and government or NGO-run telecentres represent the bulk of e-Inclusion actors with some variations across the EU-27. Although these organisations have so far not received particular attention from policy makers, the study reveals that their role for achieving the goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe may be vital. In particular, the implementation of the Digital Agenda’s objective 2.6.1 (Digital Literacy and Skills for empowerment and emancipation) calls for multi-stakeholder partnerships, ICT training and certification outside formal education systems. E-inclusion organisations mapped in the study offer a starting point for partnerships in the area of Digital Literacy and Skills.
Aside from arriving at a plausible estimate of the size and distribution of e-inclusion organisations (250.000 organisations), the study sheds light on the organisations’ profile, the services they provide and to which targets groups, how they operate and innovate, and how they can be classified (typology).
In terms of services, 80% of the organisations mapped in the study provide public access to computers and Internet and also digital literacy trainings for their communities. This is especially important when ICT is used to support social inclusion of groups at risk of exclusion- e.g. unemployed and digitally excluded citizens in their search of employment. Half of the organisations studied offer employment-related training such as online job seeking skills, application, and CV development. The majority of organisations go a step further, offering employment-related training, training on the use of social media and other collaborative software to promote peer-to-peer learning and content generation- skills that transform many of their users from consumers to producers of information. All of these activities are at the heart of the Digital Agenda policy goals.
E-inclusion actors have also been identified as hub of innovation, in the provision of skills and certification, targeted employment and entrepreneurship services and capacity building for e-facilitators amongst others. Examples of innovation can be found in services such as targeted career guidance to long term unemployed with a quick identification of profiles at risk of exclusion and the consequent offering of adapted trainings.
The results of the survey feed into a larger project – known as MIREIA – conducted by JRC and the Commissions’ Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content & Technology. MIREIA stands for “Measuring the Impact of e-Inclusion Actors on Digital Literacy, Skills and Inclusion goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe”.
Rome, Nov 5th: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and TE Director Gabriel Rissola meet and sign the next cooperation steps between the two organisations
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer visited Italy earlier this month and met with Telecentre Europe Director Gabriel Rissola in the context of the Building a Vision event of Youth Spark in Rome. On the occasion, it was revealed that in partnership with Telecentre-Europe, Microsoft will give 10,000 young Europeans Microsoft certification exams free of charge to support unemployed youth in Europe, for a total market value of over 300,000 euros. The vouchers will be used to implement objectives of the TE led Local Coalitions for Digital Jobs in various European countries.
1000 of these vouchers, i.e. 10% of the total number, will be given to Fondazione Mondo Digitale, the partner of Telecentre-Europe in Italy, to help that number of young Italian jobseekers to obtain the ICT skills needed to take up the opportunities for “digital” work.
This bi-lateral cooperation is a part of Microsoft’s YouthSpark program and falls on the heels of a long-term collaboration between Microsoft and Telecentre-Europe to drive youth employability and help address the lack of skills in the workforce. The certifications will be delivered to youth through the Microsoft IT Academy program that has delivered over 1.4 million student certifications worldwide in the last 12 months.
“At Telecentre-Europe we are committed to making a significant contribution to fight the dramatic youth unemployment rates evident in many European countries. Thanks to our Local Coalitions for Digital Jobs initiative, we are already activating partnerships for digital skills and jobs with governments, enterprises and the civil society in 10 European countries. Microsoft’s donation of 10.000 certification vouchers through its YouthSpark initiative will allow us to equip our local partnerships with a powerful tool to deliver our goals” – explained Gabriel Rissola, Managing Director, Telecentre-Europe. Read the full speech here.
Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer of Microsoft said: “We are excited to empower youth around the globe with opportunities for education, employment, and entrepreneurship though our YouthSpark program. In Italy alone, more than 25,000 students have been trained so far and we’re continuing to invest so thousands more young people can tap into the same opportunities.”
TE Chair Mara Jakobsone with distinguished officials and hosts in Malta
TE summit in Malta opens with the participation of Malta government high level officials and Malta Digital champion
Malta , Thursday 24th October,
Telecentre Europe’s annual summit opened last Thursday its 6th edition in Malta, attracting telecentre leaders and stakeholders from across Europe and exploring strategies, plans and common actions on the themes of digital inclusion, digital jobs, youth unemployment and telecentre sustainability. The focus of the event was the recent shift in the EU from digital inclusion to digital empowerment of citizens.
The Summit was opened by the Hon. Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis, Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth who stressed that a sustainable digital economy and an inclusive digital society is highly dependent on skilled people who can engage effectively with technology. He lauded the telecentre model that empowers grass root organisations towards achieving digital communities.
Mara Jakobsone, Chair of Telecentre-Europe, outlined the work that Telecentre Europe has been actively engaged in over the past year and Gabriel Rissola, Telecentre’s Managing Director presented the organization’s strategic vision for the future.
The summit was also addressed by Mr. Godfrey Vella, Malta’s Digital Champion who commended the efforts of Telecentre Europe and encouraged the organisation to transform its members from purely training centres, into entrepreneurial and innovation champions who will also serve as agents of social cohesion and economic progress.
The event was hosted by TE Maltese member- the Malta Communication Authority (MCA), a founding member of Telecentre Europe. In collaboration with various NGOs, local councils and public agencies, this member currently operates 20 telecentres across Malta and Gozo. Dr. Edwards Woods, Chairman of the Authority, said that “the MCA is committed to continued support and contribution to Telecentre Europe as it strongly believes that this is an ideal opportunity for all European nations and regions to share experiences, those successful or otherwise.” Dr. Woods added that the Authority will continue to strive to get more NGOs and local bodies involved in the telecentre initiative as these have a central role to play in our efforts to overcome the digital divide and encourage the effective use of ICT by all members of society.
During the summit, Telecentre Europe also held its first partners meeting of the European project ‘Unite-IT,’ which is aimed at raising awareness and joint European actions to overcome the digital divide. The project, led by Telecentre-Europe together with 7 of its member organisations-including the MCA- presented its collection of best practices in the e-Inclusion field.
Thank you to Ms.Mandy Calleja from MCA for the press release, on which this post was based.