Over £26 million to close the digital divide.
Around 23,000 people will be given new online skills and training to help improve their chances of securing a job or to reduce isolation.
The £26 million Connecting Scotland programme, which helps those on lower incomes and groups like the elderly, will offer online training skills as well as providing people with devices like iPads and Chromebooks, and unlimited data for two years.
This builds upon previous funding aimed at helping more people access the internet, include those who were at high risk from COVID-19, care home residents, disadvantaged families with children and young people leaving care. This latest funding also provides an existing group of 36,000 recipients with another year of unlimited data.
Organisations can apply for phase 3 funding until 5 July.
Finance and Economy Secretary Kate Forbes said:
“We are committed to seizing Scotland’s economic potential, creating secure, sustainable and satisfying jobs and supporting businesses recover from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“With technology playing an increasingly important role in our society, ensuring people can get online and have the right skills and training is even more important to Scotland’s recovery from the pandemic.
“The Scottish Government committed to helping more people get online within our first 100 days plan and that is why we are providing an additional £26 million to help a further 23,000 households experiencing difficulties with online access.
“This investment will help thousands of people get online, making sure they are not further disadvantaged by providing the necessary hardware, data, and skills they need to get connected and get the skills they need to enter the workforce.”
One recipient of the Connecting Scotland Programme was Cath MacInnes from Inverness, a single mother of four children under 12, who received a Chromebook during an earlier round of funding.
Ms MacInnes said:
“It has been a huge benefit to our online schooling and lockdown. The device enabled my children to independently work on their google classrooms, which in turn increased their confidence and helped improve their school work.
“There was also a positive effect on their wellbeing in general by being able to connect digitally with friends and family during lockdown."
Since launching in May 2020 the programme has delivered to over 36,000 households including:
Families with children: 17,289
Isolating and high vulnerability group: 8,061
Young care leavers: 4,120
Older and disabled people: 4,899
Other vulnerabilities: 1,695
Connecting Scotland is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and local authorities in collaboration with a broad range of local, public and third sector organisations.
Individuals can be nominated to receive a device by local public or third sector organisations.
There will be two application routes, one aimed at boosting employability and a fast-track process targeting those isolated as a result of the pandemic, particularly single parents, older or disabled people.