Is NI charity sector being left behind in Digital Skills race?

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By Sophie Mullen

A founder partner of Go ON UK – the UK’s Digital Skills Alliance – Lloyds Bank UK has spelt out the ‘state of digital’ in Northern Ireland but it’s latest Business Digital Index makes grim reading.

While Northern Ireland in many respects is becoming a leader in its own right in the digital sector, with technology giants making their home here, sadly the opposite seems to be true, according to this year’s Digital Skills Index, looking at SMEs and charities across the UK. It would be easy to mistake Northern Ireland as a digitally skilled nation.

Belfast is rated as number two in the UK in terms of average tech company turnover, and we have the fastest growing “knowledge economy” in the UK.

The reality is that Northern Ireland is sitting at the bottom of the digital skills league and has done for two years running now. It is a particularly issue for the community and charity sector.

Throughout the UK more than half of all charities remain without basic digital skills. Zoom into charities in Northern Ireland and the situation becomes bleaker, because instead of data, you see a large hole, with a subnote in the Business Digital Index explaining that researchers could not obtain a contactable representative sample for the charity sector in Northern Ireland.

The question is are we too disconnected as a sector from each other, let alone the internet? It is unclear. What is clear is a blatant need in Northern Ireland and in the charity sector as a whole for support and training to help increase the skills and confidence of its workers.

That is why VIEWdigital community media social enterprise has published a special edition of VIEW social affairs magazine focusing solely on the issue of ‘the community sector goes digital.’ We applaud the initiatives taken to help the community and charity sector ‘go digital’ and we are committed as a community media social enterprise to do our part. VIEWdigital will hosting ongoing practical digital and media training by industry experts.

On pages 8 and 9 you will see our calendar of upcoming training coming up. Alternatively if you need someone to sit down beside your staff and provide bespoke support, we can also help. Northern Ireland is now providing a home to digital giants, and we can’t let our community groups, charities and SMEs get left behind in this great digital race.

To see the full issue of Community Goes Digital, go to

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