Hundreds of young adult learners are now able to get online thanks to a new digital fund

590 young adults have benefited from laptops, tablets and other digital devices from the Scottish Government’s Digital Inclusion Fund.

Covid-19 has highlighted the stark digital divide that exists in Scotland, with significant numbers of young people further isolated by a lack of access to devices and the internet.

The £250,000 programme is part of an ongoing effort to digitally connect the most vulnerable members of our communities.

As part of wider digital inclusion efforts, the Scottish Government and the CLD sector have been working to address the digital divide for young adult learners who are not in full-time education, employment or training.

YouthLink Scotland, WEA and LEAD Scotland have worked in partnership to reach those who could benefit most from support to access digital equipment and the internet.

Richard Lochhead, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science, said:

I thank YouthLink Scotland, WEA and Lead Scotland for their efforts to identify and help hundreds of young adult leaders to access the extra resources they need - in this case, the services and equipment to digitally connect

“Supporting the Scottish learners most disproportionately affected by COVID-19 has been, and will continue to be, a key priority for the Scottish Government.

“This Digital Inclusion Fund will now allow 590 young adult learners to continue their engagement in community-based learning, despite the pandemic.”

Tim Frew, CEO YouthLink Scotland said:

“The lack of internet connection and access to digital devices can mean young learners are at risk of becoming more isolated during this very difficult period, which in turn can have a detrimental impact on their learning and future employment prospects. This fund addresses that digital divide for many young people. Working with CLD partners, Lead Scotland and WEA has meant we have been able to target these resources to where the need is greatest.”

Ray McCowan, Director, WEA Scotland, said: 

“WEA Scotland is delighted to have worked with Scottish Government YouthLink Scotland and LEAD Scotland to provide digital devices for almost 600 learners. Digital poverty is a significant challenge for many individuals and communities in Scotland and this Digital Inclusion Fund has been a great step forward in securing devices for those who need them the most. 

“I have no doubt these devices will improve access to learning opportunities for many people. Hopefully this will also encourage and enable some people to embark on a lifelong learning journey that will enhance life chances for both them and their families.” 

Emma Whitelock, CEO Lead Scotland, said: 

"Lead Scotland is proud to work with YouthLink Scotland, WEA Scotland and the Scottish Government to overcome digital poverty through the distribution of technology and data, widening access to learning. Learners will be supported to develop urgently needed digital skills and progress along learning pathways. We hope some learners will also be inspired to become agents of change influencing decisions about the future shape and blend of flexible community and adult learning services benefiting many more individuals, families and communities across Scotland.”

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