7. Let's get on at work
It is hard to imagine any organisation that is not rethinking, or will not have to re-think, the way it works in the digital age. Inevitably therefore, digital issues are high on the priority list of organisational leaders across all sectors of the economy and our challenge is to harness this interest to both encourage the wider and more rapid development of digital skills and, by doing so, ensure Scotland's future economic success. This insight lies at the heart of the revised Digital Participation Charter which now commits its signatories to ensuring that all their staff have the opportunity to acquire basic digital skills alongside the previous commitment to working as part of the national effort to promote digital participation across the country.
Our approach to the workforce is two-fold. First, a commitment to ensuring that all organisations understand the importance of digital technology and consider the opportunity and threat that it represents to their organisation and second, to build upon this understanding by encouraging such organisations to support and/or provide a setting for the delivery of digital skills training for all their staff.
Work to encourage the adoption of digital technology across the private sector will be led by the Digital Scotland Business Excellence Partnership. Backed by an additional £7 million of Scottish Government funding, this partnership brings together Scottish Government with our enterprise and skills agencies to develop and deliver programmes of advice, training and financial support to enable businesses of all sizes to enhance their competitive advantage through digital means. The Business Excellence Partnership and SCVO will identify lessons and offer support to promote the greater adoption of digital technology by businesses and third sector organisations as a means of improving digital skills and improving service delivery.
Many people use digital technologies every day at work and where it is needed to complete tasks, employers ensure staff have the required skills. However, the overwhelming majority of blue collar workers (78%)  do not use the internet at work and the trend for using the internet at work has remained largely stable since 2011. Nevertheless, the workplace can provide opportunities for everybody to go on line. Lunch hour sessions on managing money and where relevant updating benefit information, paying bills and contacting NHS and other public sector services can introduce people to the practical benefits of the internet.
Digital participation in the workplace offers an opportunity to address "in work poverty" by introducing people to savings online, online training and job opportunities. In many workplaces, trade unions, supported by Scottish Union Learning, are helping people to learn digital skills. Trade unions are in a unique position to engage with learners that are otherwise difficult to reach. Through a network of 2000 Union Learning Representatives, unions have the capacity to promote and facilitate digital skills to workers throughout Scotland.
Signatories to the Digital Participation Charter commit to increase the levels of digital participation including workforce training. Their approach to delivering this commitment will vary, but could include encouraging their workforce to volunteer to provide digital support to a charity, initiating a "buddy" programme, allowing lunchtime internet taster sessions for employees on their premises or supporting other companies to provide such sessions by loaning equipment or providing technical support. The Scottish Government is itself a signatory of the Charter and is determined to ensure that it meets its commitments in an exemplary fashion and works proactively across the Scottish public sector to encourage all other parts of the sector to do likewise. If we can ensure that everybody employed by the public sector in Scotland has the opportunity to develop basic digital skills, we will make a major dent in current levels of digital exclusion and we will encourage all our public sector partners to play their part in making this happen.
In order to ensure world class levels of digital participation we will:
- provide £7 million funding for the Business Excellence Partnership to promote the use of digital technology by Scottish businesses
- work through SCVO to enhance the use of digital technology by the third sector in Scotland
- ensure that signatories of the Digital Participation Charter have access to the training programmes and support to meet their commitments to ensuring that all their staff have the opportunity to acquire basic digital skills by end 2015
- work with our partners in the Scottish public sector to embrace the Digital Participation Charter and provide opportunities for staff to develop basic digital skills
- work in partnership with Scottish Union Learning to support work by trade unions to promote digital skills in a range of work places.