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Remote Working In Northland Gets US Help …Digital Skills Programme For Local Jobseekers

The US State Department is helping to fund Connected Northland, a flexible digital training and job placement programme with a $16,000 investment plus a $6000 contribution from Far North District Council.

The opportunity is the result of a two-way 2018-19 US State Department Professional Fellows learning exchange offered to US digital enablement experts and Northland Digital Enablement Group members.

The Far North District Council has engaged Connected Nation, a US-based non-profit organisation established 20 years ago to lead the project. Their Digital Works programme was launched eight years ago and is designed to ensure jobseekers are educated, mentored and upskilled, while also being supported in job placements. In the US, the programme has achieved an 80 per cent placement success rate and high participant retention, something project partners hope to replicate here.

The project is being delivered by the Northland Digital Enablement Group. Members include the Far North District Council, Northland Inc, Kaipara District Council, Whangarei District Council and Northland Regional Council.

FNDC Team Leader Community Development & Funding Ana Mules says the Connected Northland project will run from March through July 2021 and sits within Nothing But Net, the Far North District Council’s Digital Strategy and is just another chapter in our region’s digital success story.

“Improved connectivity brings a world of opportunity to Northland and we’re using better broadband to help Northlanders get job ready for remote working,” says Ms Mules.

It’s a point backed by Jude Thompson, Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan portfolio manager at Northland Inc and Chair of the Northland Digital Enablement Group.

“Connected Northland is a great collaboration. We are proud to be working with Connected Nation on this ground-breaking project because it is all about developing local talent,” she says.

“This is about flexible digital training with a focus on job placement, so it is a great opportunity for Northlanders, particularly those in remote rural areas. Being involved with Connected Nation means our talent in Te Tai Tokerau get to learn at home from professionals overseas. It is a unique opportunity and Northland Inc is identifying potential employers to participate.”

Connected Northland wants to sign-up 20 businesses by the end of March. Employer requirements can be built into the training and, ideally, they will have positions that can be filled remotely. However, Ms Thompson says there is no pressure on organisations to hire after the training.

The project is the first time Connected Nation has worked in New Zealand. “It was such a privilege to participate in the international learning exchange with New Zealand in 2019 through the US State Department,” says Chris Pedersen, Executive Vice President of Development and Planning at US nonprofit, Connected Nation.

“We learned that there is a need across all countries and cultures to work together toward digital equity and better connectivity for all people. Since that time, we have continued to share ideas and collaborate. That led us to the launch of the Connected Northland initiative. Connected Nation is excited to support this digital inclusion effort and to work together to improve lives through technology.

“Since 2001, Connected Nation has been offering programmes and initiatives across the United States to help bridge the Digital Divide. We are very excited to be partnering with the Far North District Council and the Northland community to make a difference to the lives and wellbeing of everyday New Zealanders,” says Mr Pedersen.

All Northland libraries are supporting the project, with staff ready to assist learners and free public wifi and computer access. Northlanders can sign up at the Digital Learning Hub www.driveyourlearning.org/signup



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