Hi Digital: national digital skills training programme for older people

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Active Retirement Ireland has partnered with Vodafone Ireland Foundation and ALONE to deliver a free, nationwide digital skills training programme over five years to more than 230,000 older people, with a total investment of €2 million.

The partnership initiative is aimed at bridging the worsening digital divide experienced by older people in Ireland — an issue that has been further exacerbated by the pandemic.

Research shows that one in four people in Ireland aged 60–74 and more than half of people aged 75 and older are not online. When looked at alongside the numbers of those older people who are online but lack basic digital skills, a staggering 65% of older people in Ireland face significant exclusion as more and more services and opportunities move online (Age Action, Digital Inclusion and an Ageing Population, October 2021).

A first of its kind in Ireland, the programme will see thousands of older people learning essent ial IT skills either through independent self-learning online, or a blend of in-person and online learning in their communities, empowering them to embrace the digital world with confidence.

The Vodafone Ireland Foundation’s Hi Digital free online learning resource (www.hidigital.ie) makes it easy for people to start their digital skills journey today, with self-guided courses available in both English and Irish. The courses are designed to help older people enhance their daily life and include topics such as understanding smartphone features, keeping in touch through WhatsApp and social media, planning trips, researching interests and hobbies, shopping, entertainment and banking, and online safety.

In early 2022 Active Retirement Ireland, in partnership with ALONE, will lead on a comprehensive programme of in-person classroom learning across the country through a network of community partners who will offer face to face mentoring and training so older people can develop their digital skills in a relaxed and supportive environment.

With 25,000 members, Active Retirement Ireland is engaging older people themselves to champion and deliver the Hi Digital training at community level. Some 50 volunteer digital ambassadors will be trained by Vodafone digital trainers to deliver the Hi Digital training to their peers.

In addition, Active Retirement Ireland will link in with the nationwide network of public Vodafone broadband connection points throughout the country to provide group training and devices to users and ensure everyone has the opportunity to access the internet to learn online skills, even in the most remote locations.

Visit www.hidigital.ie and get started with Hi Digital online today, or register for group classes or one to one mentoring being rolled out in 2022 by emailing hidigital@activeirl.ie or by calling 1800 203030.

Older people with existing digital skills who would like to become a volunteer digital ambassador and support others in their community are invited to please contact Active Retirement Ireland using the details above.

For more information, please see https://activeirl.ie/hidigital/

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