ICT-competent nation vital for social wellbeing and economic growth

Project launched to help adults become more digitally competent

Zammit Lewis aims to make Malta a 'true digital economy'
Zammit Lewis aims to make Malta a 'true digital economy'

A new project, 'Networked: ICT competences for better employability and workforce adaptability' was launched this morning by the Parliamentary Secretary for Competitiveness and Economic Growth, Dr. Edward Zammit Lewis and the Parliamentary Secretary for EU Presidency 2017 and EU Funds, Ian Borg.

The project will target working age adults who are not familiar with the digital world.

Zammit Lewis said that recent statistics showed that 45% of Maltese aged between 45 and 64 have never used the Internet. He said that, consequently, these individuals were excluded from taking up jobs that entail the use of computers and related technologies.

According to Zammit Lewis, such a wide digital age divide was a barrier for Malta in its effort to establish a digitally driven economy.

The project is expected to cost €450,000, and is part-financed by the European Union through the European Social Funds (ESF). It will be led by the Malta Communications Authority (MCA), in partnership with the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC).

The first phase of the project will involve a nationwide awareness campaign aimed at helping adults understand ICT, whilst explaining to them the benefits it can offer.

The second phase will comprise of subsidised training for over 3500 individuals. Two training programmes will be offered. The first programme will introduce participants to the basics of ICT in daily life contexts whilst the second will focus on the use of ICT in work related scenarios.

"ICT is about facilitating communication and enabling people, of whatever age or gender, to improve their lifestyle by effectively participating in the digital world. The prospects are significant as we are today enjoying unprecedented opportunities to connect with the outside world to improve our quality of life and an opportunity to contribute more effectively to society and the economy," Zammit Lewis said.

He said that if Malta wants to build a "true digital economy", it needs to ensure that every worker is competent and literate in ICT to be able to contribute more to the economy.

"It is Government's vision to transform Malta into a successful digital economy and strives to maximise the full potential of ICT across the whole industry. A digital economy cannot be achieved solely by a few elite players working in specialist sectors, but rather, Malta needs all its enterprises on board irrespective of size, sector and position in the value chain," he said.

Zammit Lewis concluded by saying that the real challenge was to convince people that becoming ICT literate was important.

"The challenge of this project lies in convincing workers and potential workers that ICT is relevant and meaningful, and that learning how to use it is worth the time and effort invested. I sincerely invite all those who still feel distant to technology, not to miss out on this golden opportunity," he said.

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For Malta to become a truly digital nation then Government has to step up its e-governance initiatives and allow people to truly interact with the government online. That would mean, first and foremost, for the people to be able to pay their taxes online. Once the government gets around that, then everything else is possible. Given that 45% of the older population have never used the internet, this campaign is a very good step in the right direction. Prosit