Empowering job seekers with digital literacy
A group of participants at Whau Ace show off their new Chromebooks after completing a digital literacy programme.
Making a difference to people's lives as they get older — what they do at Whau Ace.
Using funding from InternetNZ and NZ Lotteries, Whau Ace has run programmes to help people over 45 become competent technology users. Their education delivery style is oriented around the learners' needs and the organisation offers a range of courses that boost social skills. Working on things like communication, interaction, community integration, and inclusion. The goal is to help participants become more employable.
Executive Manager, Theresa Christie explains – "Our style works on finding out what they want to do/learn and helping them to find out all the things they will need to be able to do it.”
An example of that is the community’s interest in getting connected to the online world.
“Say if someone wants to sign up to Facebook,” Theresa says, “they need an email address - and most of our participants did not have one. We had to show them how to sign up for an email address, sign in, open, write, and send an email, and confirm their email address etc.”
As important as having an email address is, this was seen as a stepping stone towards getting onto social media.
“If we had said ‘we are going to learn how to sign up for an email’ address, most would have said ‘I don't need one’, or find it boring, but because they needed one to sign up for Facebook, they all wanted to learn about emails. Therefore, the need made them want to learn."
Helping communities in need
Whau Ace observed that senior citizens, particularly within lower socio-economic communities, were challenged by the cost of devices, connectivity, access to services, trust issues, and learning difficulties.
They targeted people from diverse communities, particularly Māori and Pasifika, who had no computer experience or digital devices. Their multi-lingual staff provided initial group training followed by personalised one-on-one training to meet their learning needs.
"We knew that not all people had the internet at home. Most seniors that were living alone had no reason for the internet - so we needed to cross that bridge early and we were somewhat prepared, but also found that Skinny Jump had limited numbers in certain areas so not all people were able to access cheaper internet," Christie said.
Group get-togethers enabled people to share their learning experiences with each other, and for the Centre to gather feedback to refine the programme.
They identified participants through some of their other programmes, and by partnering with community collaborators such as the Kaumatua roopu of Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust and other agencies who work with seniors.
What participants were concerned about and how the Whau Ace programme helped
Most participants relied on family support for looking after bank accounts and paying bills, and expressed concerns about security issues. Gaining the confidence and knowledge to do essential tasks such as setting up an email address, doing online banking and signing up for MyMSD is a game-changer.
Participants were also given new Chromebooks and Whau Ace worked with Skinny Jump to set up cheap Wi-Fi for those who didn't have home Internet access.
"All have enjoyed the one-on-one learning, and were amazed at receiving a Chromebook as part of their learning. They are truly grateful for the patience and gift to connect them with a world they have shied away from.”
Each year InternetNZ uses profits from the sale of .nz domain names to give out community funding. We provide funding for community-led initiatives that help people use and benefit from the Internet in Aotearoa. This initiative received funding in 2021/22. You can read the full report on our documents library.
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