Sero worked with Barnsley Metropolitan Council and the Sheffield College on the Making IT Personal project, a three-year South Yorkshire initiative funded through the European Social Fund’s call for ‘Innovative & Transnational Projects’ addressing the Digital Divide. Working with many partners including colleges and an international element, we recruited volunteer Digital Outreach Trainers (DOTs) to work as informal mentors with family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues to foster digital skills in the community.
The project addressed the innovation theme of ‘ICT and the Digital Divide’ under ESF Priority 1, ‘Extending Employment Opportunities’, the objective of which was to increase employment and to reduce unemployment and inactivity. It focused on the theme of ‘Improving access to ICT skills’. The project developed new approaches, tools, methods and service provision to address the needs of priority target groups for whom digital inclusion was vital for engagement in employment and more generally in society.
DOTs became accredited by keeping a record of the occasions on which they had helped someone else in any context where digital technology is used, for example at work, among neighbours and friends, or at the shops. A portfolio was submitted to OCN (with support from an e-mentor and from The Sheffield College) for qualification at level 2 (GCSE) or level 3 (A level). Some DOTs then went on to take an e-Communications Foundation degree.
This model has since been replicated by a number of other projects across the country.