This framework is intended to be used by everyone in the UK involved in supporting adults to improve their essential digital skills.

The framework also informs the Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index, which involves a basic digital skills survey of 9,000 people. The 2018 report found that in the UK:

  • 11.3 million people (21%) lack the full basic digital skills
  • 4.3 million (8%) have no basic digital skills at all
  • 5.4 million working adults (10%) are without basic digital skills
  • people with a registered disability are 4 times as likely to be offline
  • 28% of those aged 60+ are offline

Digital Foundation Skills

Adults will need to have the following foundation skills which underpin all essential digital skills:

Digital foundation skills

I can:

  • turn on a device
  • use the available controls on my device
  • make use of accessibility tools on my device to make it easier to use
  • interact with the home screen on my device
  • understand that the internet allows me to access information and content and that I can connect to it through Wi-Fi
  • connect my device to a safe and secure Wi-Fi network
  • connect to the internet and open a browser to find and use websites
  • understand that my passwords and personal information need to be kept safely as they have value to others
  • update and change my password when prompted to do so

Digital foundation skills examples

I can:

  • turn on the device and enter any account information as required
  • use a mouse and keyboard on a computer, use a touch screen on a smart phone or tablet
  • use settings menus to change device display to make content easier to read
  • find applications by choosing the correct icons on the home screen
  • connect a device to the internet using the Wi-Fi settings, and insert the password when required
  • locate the browser icon on a device and find a website
  • keep login information for a device and any websites secure, not shared with anyone or written down and left prominently near my device


The skills required to communicate, collaborate, and share information.

Skills for life

I can:

  • understand the importance of communicating securely
  • set up an email account
  • communicate with others digitally using email and other messaging apps
  • use word processing applications to create documents
  • share documents with others by attaching them to an email
  • communicate with friends and family using video tools
  • post messages, photographs, videos or blogs on social media platforms

Skills for life examples

I can:

  • set up a group on messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp or Messenger, to talk to friends or family members
  • use word processing software to create a CV or a letter
  • send photographs and other documents to friends and family as an email attachment
  • set up and use video-telephony products such as Facetime or Skype for video communications with friends and family
  • be a member of and manage personal networking sites, such as Facebook
  • post appropriately on social media, visit and post to forums such as Mumsnet or Reddit

Additional skills for work

I can:

  • understand and conform with my organisation’s IT and social media policies
  • comply with my organisation’s security protocols when accessing my email or working remotely
  • communicate in an appropriate way for my organisation by using email, online and collaborative digital tools
  • use digital collaboration tools to meet with, share and collaborate with colleagues
  • use professional online networks and communities

Additional skills for work examples

I can:

  • use the email address book of my organisation to send emails to colleagues and use the ‘cc’ option when requested
  • work remotely using a virtual private network when provided by my employer, and use the requested authentication to connect
  • use different document formats such as PDF to make it easier to share documents with colleagues
  • use document sharing though web based applications such as Google Docs to work on a document in collaboration with colleagues
  • use video-conferencing products such as Skype and Facetime to communicate with colleagues on conferences and calls
  • be a member of and manage my account on professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn

Handling information and content

The skills required to find, manage and store digital information and content securely.

Skills for life

I can:

  • understand that not all online information and content that I see is reliable
  • evaluate what information or content may, or may not, be reliable
  • use search engines to find information and make use of search terms to generate better results
  • use bookmarks to save and retrieve information on my web browser
  • access information and content from different devices
  • understand that the cloud is a way that I can store information and content in a remote location.
  • organise my information and content using files and folders on my device or on the cloud
  • use the internet to legally access content for entertainment including films, music, games and books

Skills for life examples

I can:

  • understand that not all entries in online encyclopaedias, such as Wikipedia, are true or reliable
  • search for news using a browser such as Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari
  • use a cloud storage account for a music or photo collection (from legal sources such as Apple iCloud, Instagram) and access the collections from different devices, such as a laptop or a smartphone
  • stream music from legal sites such as Spotify or Apple Music, or watch streamed movies from legal sources such as Netflix or Amazon Prime

Additional skills for work

I can:

  • understand and conform with my organisation’s policy for IT use
  • synchronise and share information across different devices including computers, tablets and mobile phones

Additional skills for work examples

I can:

  • search for information requested by a supervisor using browsers such as Chrome, Internet Explorer or Safari
  • manage a calendar or appointments system on multiple devices, including work computer and phone or tablet


The skills required to register and apply for services, buy and sell goods and services, and administer and manage transactions online.

Skills for life

I can:

  • set up an account online, using appropriate websites or Apps, that enables me to buy goods or services
  • access and use public services online, including filling in forms
  • use different payment systems, such as credit/debit card, direct bank transfer, and phone accounts, to make payments for goods or services online
  • upload documents and photographs when this is required to complete an online transaction
  • fill in online forms when required to complete an online transaction
  • manage my money and transactions online and securely, such as my bank, through the use of websites or apps

Skills for life examples

I can:

  • set up online accounts for public services such as with your local council or a government department
  • set up online accounts with retailers to order and pay for goods online such as through Amazon or eBay
  • use travel websites and apps to book tickets and make reservations
  • make a GP appointment online
  • complete online forms to apply for a television license or road tax
  • set up and use online and telephone banking through websites or apps, keeping access information secure
  • upload a CV to an online recruitment site
  • complete an online application form, for example for a job

Additional skills for work

I can:

  • complete digital records for absence, holidays or expenses online
  • access salary and expenses information digitally including password protected payslips

Additional skills for work examples

I can:

  • submit requests for annual leave, record absence from work or submit expenses claims online
  • review own payslip and salary payments when received digitally

Problem solving

The skills required to find solutions to problems using digital tools and online services.

Skills for life

I can:

  • use the internet to find information that helps me solve problems
  • use the internet to find sources of help for a range of activities
  • use chat facilities (where available) on websites to help me solve problems
  • use online tutorials, FAQs and advice forums to solve problems and improve my skills in using devices, software and applications

Skills for life examples

I can:

  • use the internet to find specific information related to Life tasks that need to be carried out, for example finding a recipe, or finding information that helps plan travel
  • use the help, FAQ section or chat facility of a manufacturer’s website or other related content to work out how to fix an issue with a device
  • find out how to do something by using a tutorial video such as those found on YouTube

Additional skills for work

I can:

  • use the internet to find information that helps me solve problems at work
  • use appropriate software to present information to others
  • use appropriate software, including a spreadsheet, to manipulate and analyse data to help solve problems at work
  • understand that different digital tools can improve my own and the organisation’s productivity

Additional skills for work examples

I can:

  • use the internet to identify alternative ways of resolving a problem encountered at work such as checking out a business competitor
  • use spreadsheets to plan the cost of a project.
  • use analytic tools to monitor website usage and spot trends that enable decisions to be made about marketing tactics

The skills required to stay safe, legal and confident online.

Skills for life and work

I can:

  • respond to requests for authentication for my online accounts and email
  • keep the information I use to access my online accounts secure, using different and secure passwords for websites and accounts
  • set privacy settings on my social media and other accounts
  • identify secure websites by looking for the padlock and https in the address bar
  • recognise suspicious links in email, websites, social media messages and pop ups and know that clicking on these links or downloading unfamiliar attachments could put me and my computer at risk *make sure that any information or content is backed up frequently by making a copy and storing it separately either in the cloud or on an external storage device

I understand:

  • the risks and threats involved in carrying out activities online and the importance of working securely
  • that viruses can damage my computer and that security software should be used to prevent this
  • that my online activity produces a permanent record which could be accessed by others and used both now and in the future
  • that others can capture and use my data and that I can protect and secure my personal data against such threats through privacy settings
  • that I must not share other people’s data online without their consent
  • why it is important to keep my computer systems and security software up to date and I allow them to be updated when prompted
  • why I cannot take and use content (images and documents from the web) that belongs to others without their permission because I know that online material is subject to copyright and intellectual property legislation

Skills for life examples

I can:

  • make sure that online login information is not shared with anyone
  • ensure your posts on social media are not offensive or inappropriate
  • ensure that nothing is posted on social media about others, including children, without their permission
  • use a second device to receive codes when a website provides dual factor authentication and input the code to access the associated account
  • create passwords using three random words or with at least 8 characters, using lower- and upper-case letters, numbers and symbols
  • apply privacy settings to Facebook to ensure only friends can see posts and shared content
  • activate pop-up blockers on my web browser to reduce the threat from malicious sites
  • set automatic updates in the settings menu for the computer operating system and security software
  • use search tools to find and access images and other online content that can be used by others
  • use an external storage drive and copy any new documents on to it at the end of the day

Skills for work examples

I can:

  • follow organisational guidelines and policies for choosing login information including choosing secure passwords and changing them when prompted
  • know whether your organisation has IT use and social media policies and be able to apply them
  • know and use specific procedures to report suspicious emails to IT support staff in your organisation
  • follow specific organisational guidelines to allow updates of software
  • know that open source sites are available for content that can be used in the workplace and make use of them
  • follow specific organisational guidelines to allow backing up of content from work-based devices

Organisations involved in the consultation and update of this framework

The consultation and update of the framework were coordinated by Lloyds Banking Group and the Tech Partnership, overseen by a steering group including:

  • Accenture
  • Amazon
  • BT
  • British Retail Consortium
  • Corsham Institute
  • DfE
  • DCMS
  • DWP
  • Federation of Small Businesses
  • Good Things Foundation
  • Greater London Authority
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • HMRC
  • Microsoft
  • NHS Digital
  • Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)
  • SSE

The essential digital skills framework defines the digital skills adults need to safely benefit from, participate in and contribute to the digital world.

Essential digital skills framework



This framework has been designed to support providers, organisations and employers across the UK who offer training for adults to secure their essential digital skills.

The frameworks sets out 5 categories of essential digital skills for life and work:

  • communicating
  • handling information and content
  • transacting
  • problem solving
  • being safe and legal online

There is also information about foundation skills, which are typically required by those not currently using digital technology or using it in limited ways.

This is the first update of the basic digital skills framework since its original publication in 2015. Changes have been subject to wide consultation across:

  • employers
  • charities
  • national and local government departments
  • academics
  • individuals

The most significant change to the framework is the introduction of specific skills statements for life and work, to show progression.

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