More than 23,000 people across Scotland are to be given new online skills and training through the Connecting Scotland programme.
The £26 million programme aims to improve digital literacy and accessibility among people on lower incomes or socially isolated groups, such as the elderly.
Connecting Scotland is delivered in partnership with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) alongside a host of local authorities and third sector organisations.
As part of the programme, participants will be given online skills training, provided with devices such as iPads or Chromebooks and also given unlimited data for up to two years.
Commenting on the announcement, Scottish Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, said: “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.”
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This latest announcement builds on previous funding focused around bolstering digital connectivity and accessibility during the coronavirus pandemic.
Since its launch in May 2020, the Connecting Scotland programme has helped thousands of disadvantaged families, care home residents and people at high risk from Covid access the internet.
Cath MacInnes, a single mother of four from Inverness, is one of many recipients of the programme. During an earlier round of funding, she received a Chromebook, which she described as being a “huge benefit” to the family during online schooling and lockdown.
She said: “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.”