Elderly resident being taught to use a computer

Dorset Council recruiting 1,000 digital champions to improve online access

Dorset Council is seeking to recruit and train 1,000 frontline ‘digital champions’ by 2023 to support excluded residents to get online.

With many local authority and wider public services increasingly shifting to online, the Dorset local authority has recognised the need to connect its more digitally disadvantaged residents.

The council is recruiting the new workers as part of the council’s ‘Embedded Digital Champion’ programme.

The council-ran training course will be open to any organisation in Dorset which works directly with residents.

It is estimated that once trained, each embedded digital champion could help up to eight users a week with a digital-related enquiry.

Across the full 1,000-strong workforce Dorset Council is aiming for, that could see up to 400,000 digital enquiries, from some of the local authorities most digitally excluded residents, solved each year.

Recent data showed that 11% of Dorset’s residents are completely isolated from the digital world, while a further 20% lack the digital skills needed to make the most of these new online services.

Cllr Jill Haynes, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Development and Transformation at Dorset Council, said: “Whether it’s booking your doctor’s appointment or filling in an application form, so many things can now be done quickly and easily at a click of a few buttons or the touching of a screen.

But although it’s easy and convenient for most of us, what we need to remember is there are some people who do not feel confident doing things online – and that’s where the embedded digital champions come in.

“Embedded digital champions will be able to assist customers there and then or, if needed, refer them on for extra support and advice.”

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