New digital inclusion team announced today, and my thoughts from ND13

I’m delighted that the Information Economy Industrial Strategy (IEIS) announced today by David Cameron includes the news that the government is setting up a new cross-sector digital inclusion team that will sit within Government Digital Service. Not only will the team co-ordinate work across government departments, but it will work with partners across the sectors to ensure the biggest impact possible in giving individuals and organisations the digital skills they need – something you all know I’m passionate about. With digital by default now a policy mainstay, I don’t think this commitment could have come quickly enough, and I’m very much looking forward to working closely with the new team.

One of the things that most impressed me in the blog from GDS that announces the new team is the commitment to doing things, rather than just talking about them. This is really interesting coming on the back on ND13, which left me really frustrated at the pace of change in the digital inclusion arena. The conference was full of committed people who wanted to achieve more, which leaves me wondering why we aren’t?

I said on Tuesday that to finally close the gap, what we needed was the 3P’s, but having thought about it further, maybe there are actually 5.

People – it’s all about the people who we need to help and targeted them effectively is key. It’s also about the people who are volunteers and who are paid to help other local people – they need the support, tools and leadership to achieve more in their local communities

Partnership – it’s all about working together, on a big scale. Like the 5,000 hyperlocal partners in the UK online centres network, or the scale Go ON UK works on, pulling in big employers with big customer bases, as well as each person in each local community doing their bit working with each other or local agencies. I hope the new digital inclusion team recognises the importance of these large scale partnerships, and commits to sustaining them – and supporting new ones.

Passion – We have got to believe we can achieve digital inclusion, and persuade others that it’s important. I’m sure the digital inclusion team will be passionate advocates amongst government departments and other organisations, and I think here they can have a huge impact.

Persistence – We know it’s not an easy job, or we would already have done it. We need to keep going.

Fish, Peas, and Family Trees. It’s important to keep it fun and relevant, just like one of our great centres (Starting Point in Stockport) does, running family history sessions in their fish and chip shop.

Someone tweeted me on Tuesday to say we also needed an F for Funding, and it’s true that people need some cash to make all this happen. We know this is harder to come by now, and while we need to push for a big effort, we also shouldn’t flinch away from the fact that some of this will need money to make it happen. I hope GDS’s new digital team will also recognise this need. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the impact that they – and us as their committed partners – can have.

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