Skip to Content

Enabling community Digital Champions to drive their organisations own transformation

Sally Caughey
30 Apr 2020

A new collaboration between Digital Unite and Capgemini

Being able to connect has never been so important.

There are 11.9 million people who lack the Essential Digital Skills, needed for day-to-day life in the UK. It is critical that organisations like ours, do what we can, particularly now, to help people connect more easily to the services they need, whether housing, finance or health.

At the end of last year, building on our successful Digital Academy, as part of our global commitment to digital inclusion, I wanted to extend our programme to  bring skills to people who were at risk of exclusion through lack of basic digital literacy.

I met Emma Weston OBE, Chief Executive at Digital Unite last year, and through conversations with her, I realised that while Capgemini employees have digital skills in abundance which we could take directly out to communities, we still have much to learn about the needs and realities of the communities we wanted to help.

Digital Unite provide us with a bridge. As a specialist digital inclusion organisation, they have been delivering digital skills learning for 25 years.  They help third sector organisations build digital capacity by helping them recruit and train a network of almost 4000 Digital Champions, who are then more able to engage tens of thousands of people directly in communities, helping them learn the digital skills, so essential in today’s world.

But there is an opportunity to do even more.

This week we’re launching our new collaboration – and it feels very timely.

A new collaboration to create a Digital Champion Accelerator model

Together, we have come up with an idea that we hope will transform the model for corporate support of digital skills training in the UK. Our partnership will leverage our capabilities and skills to help Digital Unites’ existing Champions extend their own reach, depth, quality and scope of support.

Using diagnostic tools to understand the specific needs of each Digital Champion we will match our consulting, communication and project management skills to help address gaps and challenges.  In this way, we can help boost their capacity to reach more people in need and help them embed much needed digital skills in their organisations.

Our partnership was due to kick off with a face to face pilot event in our Accelerated Solutions Environment in our offices in London, bringing together 30 Digital Champions with 20 Capgemini professionals to explore and address the issues they face.

Instead we have transformed the physical into a virtual session where the agenda will remain the same and the opportunity has been opened to enable Digital Champions from more remote areas of the UK to join. I’m optimistic that this could provide an innovative new way to deliver this programme at scale.

We have a 5-step approach:

  1. Digital Champions will share their challenges by answering a pre-event diagnostic questionnaire. Challenges may be about topics as diverse as boosting skills learning, devising marcomms initiatives, growing learner participation or building a business case to secure future investment
  2. Capgemini volunteers also complete a pre-training diagnostic questionnaire through which they identify their skills and motives for getting involved. They also learn more about the digital skills issues in the UK and the needs of the third sector. Critically they participate in Digital Unite’s Digital Champions Network training, so that they understand the challenges and needs of the learners and communities that the Digital Champions are working with.
  3. Capgemini volunteers and Digital Champions come together in a virtual a workshop to develop solutions.
  4. Each Digital Champion is assigned a buddy volunteer mentor to work with on the day, and together they will design action plans to address the challenges identified.
  5. Capgemini volunteers and Digital Champions join an online forum to continue the support and share best practices among the group.

What happens after the pilot?

The Digital Champion Accelerator model will build a foundation in our own organisation of ‘expert’ Digital Champion support volunteers.   Participation will give them CPD-accredited training credentials, enabling them to continue supporting digital skills delivery with confidence and skill.

The Digital Champion Accelerator will lead to the production of a practical toolkit in which some common problems experienced by Digital Champions will be explored and plans created to address them which will be available to all Digital Champions in Digital Unite’s network.

Critically it will inform our strategy – how we can scale appropriate support for Digital Champions across the UK – not just the physical numbers but also the range and nature of interventions we can offer. Working together our aim is to continue trailblazing new models for creative corporate support of the urgent digital skills agenda in the UK.

Sustained impact

We have been delighted to work with Capgemini on the Accelerator programme. It really is a new take on corporate volunteering in the ‘digital skills space’. We’ve been keen to develop support that not just makes sense to Champions, but which they can also access when they need it and make practical use of on their own terms. This is what will deliver the greatest digital skills impact on the ground and this is what we think is refreshingly unique about our collaboration.

What’s so neat about Accelerator is that it matches demand to supply in a very focussed way, making it a tailored, personalised experience for Capgemini volunteers and Digital Champion recipients. Sustained, impactful support to those needing digital skills support on the ground will be the very welcome outcome”.

– Emma West, OBE, Digital Unite CEO

For more information on our digital inclusion programme see here.