Digital literacy skills are essential in today’s world, the Canadian government knows.
Whether booking a medical appointment, performing online transactions, studying, working, or seeking work, Canadians “need to be able to use the Internet safely, securely, and effectively.”
Innovation and technological progress are creating “tremendous change,” the government notes, making digital literacy more crucial than ever.
Understanding digital technology will not only reduce barriers to accessing valuable information and resources but also “open up opportunities for all Canadians to succeed in everyday life,” according to a statement from Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
This week, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne announced that 23 not-for-profit organizations in communities across the country will receive funding as part of a $17.6 million investment in the second phase of the Digital Literacy Exchange Program.
Launched in 2018, the DLEP aims to equip Canadians with the necessary skills to engage with computers, mobile devices, and the Internet competently, and it is designed to be inclusive by reaching out to those who are not online or are still learning how to use digital technologies.
The DLEP aligns with the Universal Access principle of the government’s Digital Charter, part of a bundle of digital skills programs offered by the Government of Canada that seek to “bridge the digital divide and help all Canadians access digital technology and develop the skills they need to use it.”
“Our government knows that Canada thrives when no one gets left behind,” stated Champagne. “In today’s reality, understanding digital technology and being able to use the Internet are vital, which is why we are committed to ensuring that all Canadians have the skills to access information and opportunities online.”
The organizations receiving funding are:
- ABC Life Literacy Canada
- Altered Minds
- Brain Injury Association of Waterloo-Wellington
- Burnaby Neighbourhood House
- Canadian National Institute for the Blind
- Community Sector Council Newfoundland and Labrador
- East Hants Community Learning Association
- Fabrique Mobile
- Gaspésie Literacy Council
- Gluu Society
- Job Skills
- Labour Education Centre
- The Learning Enrichment Foundation
- Literacy Link South Central
- Multicultural Association of Fredericton
- Newfoundland and Labrador Public Libraries
- Parkland County Library Board
- Pinnguaq Association
- Project Adult Literacy Society
- SADC Shawinigan
- Saskatoon Industry Education Council
- Tech Manitoba
Dr. Alex Clark, president of Athabasca University, has suggested Canadians are feeling pressure to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world.
Research from AU recently concluded that three-quarters of workers want to re-skill to keep up with their job’s changing demands, with digital skills marking a top or high priority among a significant majority.
“The data from this study is telling us that Canadians almost can’t keep up with the dizzying pace of technological growth in the workplace,” Clark observed.
Some Canadians are struggling to keep up, while others “want to increase their value in the marketplace,” the researcher says.
Regardless the motivation, it’s widely agreed that digital skilling is becoming an increasingly essential part of anyone’s education and training.
“Through initiatives supported by the Digital Literacy Exchange Program, thousands more Canadians will be equipped with the necessary skills to use computers, mobile devices, and the Internet safely and securely,” said Champagne.
Across three years beginning in 2023, Canada hopes to help 100,000 Canadians gain the skills they need to participate in a digital world, according to a statement.
A basic toolkit of digital competence is a solid foundation upon which to up-skill, which in turn unlocks career doors across Canada’s knowledge economy.