Another missed leadership opportunity

Once again, Canada has missed an opportunity to lead in an area of digital skills development.

I shouldn’t be surprised.

At this stage, Canada’s National Digital Strategy is so long overdue that we should be asking some hard questions about what has gone so terribly wrong with a multi-departmental program that started so right, under the leadership of Industry Canada with participation by Human Resources and Heritage Canada. More than two years have passed since we were promised:

This consultation is the next step in developing the right environment for the greater adoption of digital technology. After it is complete, we take the results into account as we develop an action plan to address the digital issues facing Canada now and in the future.

Once again, the US is demonstrating leadership in creating “the right environment for the greater adoption of digital technology. The Connect2Compete initiative has launched a new digital literacy campaign, adding a job-training partner to increase its focus on broadband as an aid for training and to search for jobs. The US Department of Labor will provide digital literacy training at nearly 2,800 employment and training centers operated by the agency.

Canada’s counterpart, Human Resources and Skills Development was part of the initial launch of the consultation. Two years later, there is still no “Digital Literacy” heading on its website listing “Jobs and Training“.

I continue to be optimistic that we can develop a program to take on the challenge I set out 19 months ago in a blog post called “Digital Divide“: We need a connected computer for every home. We need to work on skills development and access to devices among low income households.

Connect2Compete demonstrates a framework that does not require massive cash injections from government. If government won’t lead, then what about the private sector showing the way?

1 thought on “Another missed leadership opportunity”

  1. Mark:

    This post about what’s going on in the U.S. (and not in Canada) around digital literacy, digital divides, jobs and training, etc. is bang on and stands in stark contrast to what’s happening here in Ontario (and Canada) as described in Joe Fiorto’s column in today’s Toronto Star (link below).

    Not only is the Province of Ontario closing down employment centres, the Federal Government is closing down community outreach centres across the country. All of these centres house relatively modern and reliable computer and network equipment to allow people to, among other things, search for jobs and overcome the problem of not having a computer or an affordable network connection.

    Are these actions part of the digital economy strategy that is supposed to be about enhancing digital literacy and minimizing digital divides, among other things? Looks more like the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. However, if neither of them know what direction they’re supposed to be following, who can blame them!–fiorito-closure-of-employment-resource-centre-does-not-compute

    Your calls for a connected computer in every home rings ever more relevant today because of stupid, ill-informed decisions by senior levels of government more concerned about austerity than the welfare of ALL of their citizens and society as a whole. How many of those affected by these decisions are going to end up in gangs because of their having lost a valuable connection to the world outside their local community?

    Maybe the private sector, especially the ICT sector should start thinking about picking up the tab for these centres. Who knows, maybe there might be a few potential employees out there.

    Wake up government! Take off the blinders! Think horizontally and not in silos!

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