This Dispatch will outline how funds allocated in the ARRA aim to support broadband initiatives and how states can leverage broadband to create efficiencies, increase opportunities and begin to bridge a major resource divide in our country by implementing progressive broadband initiatives.
Beyond investing in physical infrastructure, states need to invest in education and community media infrastructure to overcome the digital divide. The digital divide not only refers to the gap in broadband adoption between different demographics, but also refers to imbalances in the resources and skills needed to participate as a digital citizen in the 21st century. Groups frequently disenfranchised in other parts of society, such as lowincome individuals and minorities, often have fewer opportunities togain essential digital skills.
The digital divide not only refers to the gap in high-speed Internet access between the certain demographics, particularly low-income households andracial minorities, but also refers to imbalances in the resources and skills needed to effectivelyparticipate as a digital citizen.
In order to accomplish digital inclusion, states need tolook beyond simply investing in physical infrastructure. Low incomeindividuals and people of color, groups that are frequently disenfranchised inother parts of society, often have fewer opportunities to gain essentialdigital skills. Aside from being left out of the technological age,individuals without necessary digital skills may soon find themselvesunqualified for many employment opportunities. Mostworkforce professionals acknowledge the critical role that IT skills -- everythingfrom basic literacy to more dynamic “knowledge economy” skills -- play insuccessful job seeking. Today,according to Department of Labor statistics, over 80% of newjobs will require computer skills. Past studies have shown that there is a great mismatch between adultsentering the labor market and the technology skills that are required for work.
Along with high-speed Internet adoption, states need toaddress these issues of digitalempowerment and digital opportunity,including the need to provide essential work force training, funding community technology centers whereresidents can gain digital skills, and support for alternative media where theexcluded can have their voices heard in the digital civic debate. Technologyliteracy programs should focus on providing the necessary skills to bridge notonly the digital divide, but the social and economic divide in states,including employment skills, financial literacy, economic self-empowerment andhow to access civic information.
Core Policies To Help Increase Technology Literacy and Inclusion Policies: