Citizens Online reported that the council has made outstanding progress in many areas to support digital inclusion (May 2019). But there is more work to do to close the gap working with partners across Dorset and addressing specific areas of need.
Nationally, 54% of the population uses the internet to work, yet the Lloyds Bank Digital Consumer Index 2019 found that more than half of UK employees (53%) do not have the digital skills they need for work. A Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey last year showed almost half Dorset businesses need help with business skills.
We have a network of 75 digital champions in the community and 175 in the workplace to support the development of digital skills. In the council we have deployed O365 and MS Teams. In a recent staff survey the confidence range in using MS Teams was 78%, we want to increase this.
There is a national shortage of engineers to build full fibre, gigabit capable networks. Openreach has developed fibre training facilities but this will not meet the national need or provide engineers for other network providers.
Developing digital skills and ensuring maximum digital inclusion is a clear priority for us. We will:
- continue our ‘Routes to Inclusion’ work with communities to help people develop digital skills and facilitate access to devices and get online to reduce digital exclusion
- we will help people to use new online services and create embedded digital champions across the public sector workforce as per recommendations from Citizens Online
- create a Digital Skills Partnership working with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to drive digital skills for businesses, and work with partners to create a Fibre Training Centre in Dorset
- supercharge our employee and councillor digital champions working with Changing Social and 365TRIBE, to redefine the role, raise its importance, and develop a more rounded set of skills to cascade knowledge. This will help the adoption of technology across the whole council as part of our Dorset Workplace Programme
- develop cohorts of ‘design champions’ across the organisation to enable employees to continually improve services focused on user needs, using data and customer insight as evidence
- work with NHS colleagues, businesses and the education sector to establish a Digital Academy in Dorset that provides knowledge and skills in design, agile, latest technologies, and digital leadership
- develop our technical skills to fully exploit our core technology platforms to provide modern digital services, developing excellence by using professional skills frameworks to ensure technical roles keep pace with future needs