Digital Participation: A National Framework for Local Action

A national framework that underpins local action to help individuals and businesses improve levels of digital participation.

5. Let's get on through training and education


The starting point for our approach is the development of basic digital skills. The Scottish Government endorses the definition of such skills developed by the partners in Go On UK ( Figure 6).

Figure 6: Basic Digital Literacy

Skills Communicate Find things Share personal information
  • Send
    receive emails
  • Use search engine
  • Browse the internet
  • Fill out an online application
    form e.g.
    • Job application
    • Makes a booking or purchase
    • Access government services
    • Register on social website
Keeping safe online
  • Identify
    and delete spam
  • Evaluate which websites
    to trust
  • Evaluate which websites to trust
  • Set privacy settings

However, whilst these skills represent the entry point to the digital world and have the advantage of being easily measureable, a world-class digital country demands that digital participation and digital skills are regarded as continuums rather than absolutes. Our challenge is therefore not only to ensure that everybody can be supported in developing basic skills, but also to create the conditions in terms of motivation, accessibility and the availability of training and support to enable people to move up the digital skills pathway and ultimately to reach a level at which they are shaping rather than participating in our digital economy. ( Figure 7)

Figure 7: The Digital Participation Pathway

Relevance Understanding the benefits for me I understand that the internet might be useful to me The benefits are worth the effort I can do things more efficiently online I can pursue new and old interests online The internet is part of the way I live my life
Access Opportunity and means to get on line I want to find ways of getting online I know where to go to get online I know the costs and can afford to have access I access the internet at home and in my own time I use multiple devices to meet my needs
Capability Ability to make it work I am interested in developing digital skills I have a basic level of digital skills I use good judgement to assess quality content My digital skills enable me to do new and different things I mentor and train others in digital skills
Confidence Enthusiasm to embrace the internet in a safe and responsible way I want to use the internet in a safe and responsible way I interact with the sites and services I know I feel safe to use the internet to do new things I'm actively engaged in ecommerce and online forums I encourage and enthuse others to get online
Speed Demanding and benefiting from improved performance I'm interested in doing things online I want to do more things online I'm investing in greater capacity I'm getting the benefits from superfast speeds I'm passionate about the benefits of superfast broadband
Innovation Leading the development of a digital economy I recognise that the digital world is changing things I use digital technology to get things done I can create content if I chose to I can see opportunities to use the internet for social or financial benefit I'm building an online business or community


Our aim is to make high quality training in basic digital skills available to everybody who wants it, in a way and a place that suits their needs. This may be for self-directed learning at home, in a community setting or delivered with the support and assistance of a trainer, mentor or digitally skilled peer. Wherever and however this training is delivered, it is essential that it is of a consistently high quality, recognises the use of different internet-connected devices and meets the expectations of those who chose to undertake it.

There are already many good training programmes across the country and these will now have the opportunity to be assessed and carry the Digital Scotland endorsement where they can be shown to meet user needs. In addition, Scottish Government will work with all relevant agencies to offer individuals, employers and training providers access to online training programmes designed to make it easy to get online for the first time and develop the basic digital skills described above. This will see a variety of short courses provided through the Digital Scotland Website, covering everything from starting out with keyboard, mouse and email skills, through to more tailored uses of the web such as managing personal finances, using social media, applying for a job and staying safe online. A suite of management information will be collected to assess take up of these courses and help us ensure that the range and content of courses meets the needs of the people of Scotland.

The widespread provision of accessible basic skills training will provide a platform for the development of an even more comprehensive range of training activities to help people progress along the digital participation pathway. Working with partners such as Digital Glasgow, we will define core skills requirements at key stages within that pathway and develop or signpost the support that is available to attain these skills levels. Working with the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and other skills and training partners, we will link these programmes into a framework of meaningful qualifications that will give due recognition to their achievement.

The development of more sophisticated digital skills has received a major boost with the publication of an ICT Skills Investment Plan by a group of partners led by Skills Development Scotland. Developed against a backdrop of current and continuing skills shortages and a gender imbalance within Scotland's highly successful Digital/ ICT sector, the plan sets out the case for a new Digital Skills Academy to meet short term skills gaps and describes action to promote graduate placement and internship programmes, work within schools to increase the numbers of people who choose to follow a digital career and engage with the Higher Education sector to ensure that courses are aligned to the digital jobs market. The plan, which is being backed by an additional £ 6.6 million of Scottish Government funding also includes action to encourage more women across Scotland to enter and remain within the Digital / ICT profession.

The Scottish Government's vision for ICT in Scottish schools is that our educators, learners and parents take full advantage of the opportunities offered by technology in order to raise attainment, ambition and opportunities for all. This is supported by 5 main objectives. These are to:

  • change the culture of the use of ICT
  • improve confidence in the use of ICT for learners, teachers, school leaders and parents
  • promote new behaviours for teaching
  • deepen parental engagement
  • strengthen the position on hardware and associated infrastructure

Within schools, we need to both ensure that our children are secure and safe online and provide them with access to online environments in which they can learn the digital skills that will equip them for the digital age. Glow, the national schools' intranet, provides schools and local authorities with free and secure access to a range of ICT tools and services, such as blogs, wikis, Glow Meets (video conferencing) and Glow TV (video streaming/downloads). Education Scotland is developing a framework which will help to ensure that all Glow users have access to relevant, engaging and enjoyable content and support the successful delivery of the Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE). This will include nationally procured content and content generated by users (teachers and pupils).

Higher order content creation skills are increasingly important for people wishing to enter the ICT/ digital job market. Young people are embracing new opportunities to become digital makers through code clubs and other science and technology initiatives aimed at school age children and we will encourage extra-curricular activities that excite the next generation about the potential of digital technology. Young people with the relevant Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths ( STEM) skills will have exciting career opportunities in the new, technology-based companies that will power future productivity and sustainable economic growth. New CfE qualifications in Computing Science that bring together learning in Software Development and Design, and Information Systems Design and Development, will therefore provide a solid foundation for progression into further and higher education, and the jobs market.

As part of the Skills Investment Plan, we will also work with the teaching profession to ensure that our approach to continuing professional development promotes an understanding of the very latest digital trends and opportunities and ensures that future students emerge from our schools with a better understanding of the opportunities that exist in the digital economy. This will include activities that help break stereotypes and help young people think differently about the career opportunities in the digital / ICT sector. Through CfE, all teachers, in all departments and in all settings, have opportunities to apply, reinforce and extend ICT skills within and across curriculum areas. We are offering funding to BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, to provide professional learning for secondary teachers of computing science to ensure that learning incorporates new programming languages and current thinking on approaches to teaching the subject. The work is also helping to develop local teacher "champions" who can help to build local capacity. In addition, we are supporting Nesta to offer one day training events for teachers on digital activities and run pilots in clusters of primary schools and their associated secondary schools where support is provided to deliver digital projects.


In order to ensure world class levels of digital participation we will:

  • offer and promote a comprehensive range of training courses on the Digital Scotland website
  • work with Skills Development Scotland and its partners to implement the recommendations of the Skills Investment Plan to meet current and future Digital/ ICT skills gaps, increase uptake of ICT courses and address the current gender imbalance within the Digital/ ICT sector
  • support initiatives to promote the continuing professional development of Scotland's teachers in respect of digital skills and enable them to offer even more exciting, high quality experiences that will stimulate a lifelong interest in digital technology
  • collaborate with Young Scot, Skills Development Scotland and industry partners to set up a Digital Skills Academy for Scotland
  • establish a network of coding clubs for school children and investigate mentorship programmes involving young people who have advanced digital skills and an interest in volunteering to support others.


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