Led by our partners at the Reading and Writing Foundation, on December 12th we visited one of the five social and sheltered employment companies where the program Digital Upskilling 4 Work is taking place. Through it, 24 people were trained in a ten-week course to increase their level of digital skills in the workplace.
Digital Upskilling 4 Work (“Digitaler naar werk” in Dutch) was designed and launched this year in The Netherlands by the Reading and Writing Foundation with grant support from DigiCo and in partnership with the trade association SBCM. Its purpose is to mitigate the impact that low digital skills have on the quality of life of the Dutch vulnerable population. In this country, about 2.5 million people are low literate, and around 30% of them lack basic digital skills.
Therefore, the need to upskill and reskill the workforce, specially underrepresented groups such as low literate people, has never been more urgent. To address this challenge, the program Digital Upskilling 4 Work focuses on low-literate employees of sheltered employment companies. In these companies, individuals are supported to find suitable work. Furthermore, an enabling learning environment at the work floor is essential for this type of programs’ success, and employers like Drechtwerk play a key role in this. Not only by providing the opportunity to take part in training and creating a supportive culture of lifelong learning, but especially by making sure workers feel confident and encouraged to take this step and develop themselves.
Drechtwerk is a sheltered employment facility in the municipality of Dordrecht which offers work opportunities to people with distance to the labour market. The company’s main objective is to develop and enhance people’s possibilities within the organisation and in external companies by providing training that foster their social and economical integration. Drechtwerk works specifically with individuals with disabilities, either physical or mental.
Digital Upskilling 4 Work was piloted in this company between October and December, alongside four other sheltered employment facilities. The results of this pilot prove that a work-based training can be highly efficient, with participants showing higher confidence in using digital tools. The feedback from the participants is positive and engaging: after participating in the program, some of them have bought their own laptops to continue learning at home.
In 2023, Digico will support the Reading & Writing Foundation to upscale this training program to 2 additional companies in The Netherlands. We are strongly committed to support further training of low-skilled and low-literate adults in an effort to bridge the digital skills gap.
Our collective has the mission to reduce the digital skills gap and improve access to employment for vulnerable individuals across Europe. By working together for this common cause, more people are able to enter and remain a part of the current changing labour market. For more information on our partnering programs, you can visit here and/or contact Léa Ichikawa, our Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.