Minister White announces €540,000 in training funds to get ‘non-liners’ online


Minister for Communications Alex White, TD, today (Monday) awarded €540,000 to twenty-nine projects to help 12,000 people develop basic internet skills. The funding will bring to 114,000 the number of ‘non-liners’ – people who don’t use the internet – who have been helped by the BenefIT Programme since it was established in 2008.

One in six Irish residents have never used the internet, according to new figures published by the Central Statistics Office last week. This is an improvement on the previous figure of one in five. The BenefIT programme aims to halve the number of ‘non-liners’ by the end of 2016.

Announcing the 2015 grant awards at Dublin’s Digital Hub today, Minister White said: “BenefIT is an excellent example of high quality and value-for-money Government intervention. By the end of next year it will have given over 114,000 non-liners, of all ages and backgrounds, access to the internet. Their feedback tells us that 99% of participants would recommend the training to others.

“The encouraging CSO statistics show that our combined efforts are paying off. Nevertheless, I am extending the reach and impact of this initiative to help thousands more people enrich their lives through better access to information, entertainment, social interaction, education and commercial and public services.”

The thirty projects being funded in 2015 will deliver basic internet skills training to groups including young people, unemployed people, farming communities, ethnic minority and traveller groups, older people, parents, job-seekers, people with mental health problems and small businesses. There is also funding for a children’s internet safety project, a rural unemployed group, a community micro-history project and a small sustainable woodland management scheme. The training will be delivered in approximately 100 locations across the country.

Part of the National Digital Strategy (NDS), the BenefIT programme works through community and voluntary organisations, which compete for grants to fund digital skills training in email, social media, video calling, use of online public services, eBanking, TV playback and others aspects of internet use. The community projects encourage and support communities to come up with their own plans and build local partnerships that can get more people online, learning new skills and accessing online resources. The BenefIT scheme has distributed almost €6.5 million to projects since it was established in 2008.

The BenefIT programme is currently available at over 600 locations across Ireland. The latest tranche of funding will bring that to over 700. Details of the locations can be found on the online training locations map on the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources website.