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Connect to Compete initiative aims to boost digital literacy

Spearheaded by FCC Chairman, the initiative draws upon public and private resources, including Microsoft and Best Buy

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Best Buy’s Geek Squad will provide in-person digital literacy training and Microsoft will provide an on-line equivalent as part of a private-public “Connect to Compete” initiative announced today. Also participating in Connect to Compete will be a range of non-profit organizations, including One Economy, which will head up the initiative, as well as several other career-related companies such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com, which will provide additional support resources.

“Digital literacy refers to the skills necessary to seize the opportunities [created by] broadband,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who announced Connect to Compete in an address in Washington today. “If you’re not digitally literate, you’re at a significant disadvantage in the work force.”

Genachowski cited research showing that many open job positions require only basic computer literacy. Connect to Compete aims to bridge the skills gap that prevents unemployed Americans from qualifying for those positions, he said.

Connect to Compete, Genachowski said, will be a “multi-year effort” involving “ongoing data-driven experimentation.”

Beyond basic literacy
As part of the plans unveiled today, Best Buy will provide 20,000 Geek Squad trainers, who will offer digital literacy skills training in 20 markets nationwide. Organizations such as 4-H, Boys and Girls Club, Goodwill, and Connected Nation will help in generating awareness of this training, as well as the on-line training provided by Microsoft.

Connect to Compete also aims to help train people for jobs requiring more than basic digital literacy and a high school diploma but not a full college degree. Microsoft, for example, will offer training on Microsoft Office, initially in 13 states, but eventually expanding nationwide. In addition, CareerBuilder.com will offer online prep and certification courses for only $1 per course in areas such as technology, healthcare and manufacturing. And Monster.com will provide job-search resources tailored to the needs of people who are not familiar with using broadband.

Other career-related companies offering digital literacy resources include Arise Virtual Solutions, Discovery Education, MetrixLearning, Brainfuse, and Sesame Workshop.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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