I have to admit feeling disappointed not to have seen more about digital inclusion in the manifestos that have been released over the last few days. The most prominent mention was from the SNP, who have said they want to deliver a future-proofed infrastructure, which will include tackling the digital divide. This is good news for over a million people in Scotland who still lack basic online skills. The other parties have given digital a mention, but not specifically about getting people online.
The SNP also included improved broadband connections, as did Plaid Cymru who placed real emphasis on Wales getting people the access they need at home in order for them to connect with society. The SNP are committed to making sure that access to the internet is affordable and reaches those in the most disadvantaged communities; they also intend to invest £1.5m to increase the free provision of wifi in public buildings. Good to see, however skills need to be addressed alongside this.
There was a focus on young people across almost all the manifestos with UKIP pledging to address the important issue of online child safety. Plaid Cymru would introduce key skills into education to ensure that all young people have IT skills and can understand the technology that surrounds them. UKIP and Plaid Cymru also agreed that the tuition fees for technology-based degrees should be removed to encourage more people to pursue careers in the tech field.
The Green Party manifesto took a slightly different approach to digital by promising to support and protect ‘internet freedom’, with an emphasis on ensuring controls over the data that our digital lives create is maintained and not privatised.
There isn’t as much promise in these manifestos when compared to the three main parties but like I said in my last post, whatever the outcome on May 7th, there’s plenty for us to build on.