The New Zealand Computer Society Inc (NZCS), the professional body of the ICT sector and largest ICT body in the country and the 2020 Communications Trust, a registered Charitable Trust established to undertake digital literacy projects, today jointly announced a significant consolidation of national digital literacy projects under the 2020 umbrella.
The move will see the popular KiwiSkills digital literacy project transfer from NZCS to the 2020 Trust as well as a joint and more coordinated approach from the ICT sector in tackling digital literacy in New Zealand.
The KiwiSkills initiative will be operated alongside the other major national digital literacy projects such as Computers in Homes and Stepping Up, establishing the 2020 Trust as New Zealand’s primary digital literacy organisation. Rather than operating other projects aimed at achieving the same outcomes, NZCS and others will work to promote and support the 2020 Trust.
“This move will significantly expand the reach of Kiwiskills in New Zealand while ensuring NZCS can focus on the growth and development of ICT Professionals”, NZCS Chief Executive Paul Matthews said today. “It’s also very timely. The huge investment being made in ultra-fast broadband infrastructure by Government and its UFB and RBI partners means the need for confident computer and internet users is only going to increase.”
KiwiSkills uses the internationally recognised International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) programme to help people upskill and become confident users of digital technologies. The ICDL programme is in use in 148 countries in 41 languages and since 1999 has helped over 10 million people worldwide.
NZCS has operated ICDL since introducing it to New Zealand in 1999. In 2010, the programme was extended and rebranded by NZCS as KiwiSkills. The programme has helped tens of thousands of kiwis from all walks of life gain digital skills and secure a recognised qualification.
“This move will cement the 2020 Trust’s place as the lead organisation for digital literacy and digital inclusion in New Zealand,” said Matthews. “When we considered the next stage for KiwiSkills to achieve greater reach and growth, combining it with the 2020 Trust’s existing programmes was the obvious next step. This transfer will build on the successful foundation that has been established.”
The change represents a signficant donation by NZCS to the country’s digital literacy efforts. One staff member will also transfer to the Trust and NZCS will continue to play an active role in the ongoing governance of the project.
“The bottom line is that as a result of this change, more New Zealanders will become confident and proficient users of technology.” Matthews said.
The 2020 Trust has a 15-year history of promoting digital literacy and is widely known and respected for a variety of digital literacy initiatives including its flagship Computers in Homes and Stepping UP programmes. The Trust has a mandate that extends to all New Zealanders—its vision is “to enable all New Zealanders to fully participate in a digital world”.
“We see KiwiSkills as a great fit with our existing programmes,” said Laurence Millar, Chair of the 2020 Trust. “We start people on their digital journeys with Computers in Homes and then support them with targeted training modules that we call ‘digital steps’. Many want to go further, and bringing in KiwiSkills means we can now provide a full coordinated digital literacy pathway.”
Unlike the existing 2020 programmes, KiwiSkills includes an opportunity for participants to sit a test and receive accreditation for the modules they have selected. ICDL has been accredited by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority at level 2 on the qualifications framework and is widely recognised by employers throughout the world as a core digital literacy standard.
“Most people seeking employment are likely to claim to have some computer skills, but employers can have confidence that those with an ICDL certificate have the skills necessary to contribute productively in any office environment,” said Millar.
The changes will also expand the availability of KiwiSkills in the regions currently supporting Computers in Homes, including the Far North, Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Wairoa, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu-Horowhenua, Taranaki-Central North Island, Wanganui, Porirua, Wairarapa, Wellington-Hutt, Christchurch, Dunedin and the West Coast.
“Businesses and citizens must be able to use digital technologies confidently if the Government’s ambitious digital literacy targets are to be reached, “ concluded Mr Millar.