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Govt supports seniors to embrace technology

Investment in digital literacy training for seniors has led to more than 250 people participating so far, helping them stay connected, the Government says.

“COVID-19 has meant older New Zealanders are showing more interest in learning how to use technology like Zoom and Skype so they can to keep in touch with their loved ones,” says minister for seniors Dr Ayesha Verrall.

“The Wellbeing Budget in 2019 provided $600,000 to deliver computer training and skills for people who need it," she says.

Verrall says programmes such as Pacific Senior CONNECT and Better Digital Futures are doing a great job upskilling people across the country.

“Some programmes also help older New Zealanders get affordable internet connection so they’re able to access services and information at home," she explains.

“From the evaluation completed for the first cohort of 24 participants of the Pacific Senior CONNECT programme, it showed a significant increase in digital social connection skills."

Verrall says the percent of participants that said they could communicate with others digitally, for example through email or Messenger increased from 39% to 78%. The number of participants that said they could speak to others through video tools like FaceTime, Zoom or Skype increased from 4% to 78%.

“Of those who have completed The Better Digital Futures for Seniors programme, the use of email increased from 47% to 86%, and the use of video tools increased from 14% to 34%," she says.

“These are really great initiatives that make sure that our seniors aren’t left behind. We can all play a part in that too.

“Many older New Zealanders find technology daunting. I urge Kiwis this summer to reach out to their older family members and neighbours to see if you can support them."

The Government has also announced New Zealand small businesses will be able to benefit from a Government-funded Digital Boost skills training and support initiative.

The Digital Boost skills training is the first initiative to be launched from the Digital Boost programme, a partnership between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the private sector to support thousands of small businesses in realising the benefits of using digital tools and technologies in their business.

The New Zealand Government announced $10 million worth of funding specifically for SMEs in Budget 2020.

The package will help small businesses and tourism operators transition in the COVID-19 world by lifting digital capability, the Government said.