From education to employment

Lord Mayor of London brings together coalition of businesses and civil society groups to drive forward the UK’s digital skills agenda

Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin

Lord Mayor of London Peter Estlin will today (Thursday 10th October) launch, a new coalition of leading companies, education providers and charities working in collaboration with government to empower everyone to thrive in a digital UK.

It is backed by commitments to reach millions of people across the UK through digital skills training by more than 20 members (full list below) and six founding partners:

  • Accenture,
  • BT,
  • City of London Corporation,
  • Good Things Foundation,
  • Lloyds Bank and
  • Nominet.

The coalition is based on a shared conviction that all of us need the motivation to step up our digital skills, whatever our starting point today, in order to not be left behind as individuals in modern society and as a national economy.

The UK is at the forefront of the digital revolution, with the pace of growth for technology, media and creative businesses outperforming the wider economy. Yet the speed of change is leaving many behind:

  • 53% of UK employees do not have the essential digital skills required for the workplace
  • 4.1 million adults in the UK are still ‘offline’, with 75% indicating that ‘nothing’ could motivate them to change
  • 11.3 million UK adults still lack the essential skills to access the internet, communicate and solve problems online

The founding members have therefore committed to the following pledges – and are encouraging other organisations to join in and do the same:

  1. Pledge 1: Build our own capability. Collaborate and share existing resources and tools, work together to develop new ideas, and attract new partners to tackle the most important digital skills challenges, support change and scale impact. We will be part of something that makes a very real difference to people’s lives and the economy.
  2. Pledge 2: Build scale outside our own organisation. Be ambitious about the digital skills of our workforce. We are committed to understanding the areas where we can improve, highlighting the benefits of safe digital use and skills, and providing opportunities for our employees to develop the essential digital skills for life and work.
  3. Pledge 3: Build collective action. Motivate and support others – such as our customers, our contractors, our suppliers, our families and friends, and the communities around us – to recognise the urgent need to improve their own digital skills and those of the people they work with.

New research from the coalition partners reveals that there’s no lack of training available, with more than 200 initiatives across the UK. The 17 largest-scale programmes in the research cover more than two million people in total.

Today, too many people do not see the point in taking the time out to keep up with new technology. And even if they are motivated to do so, it can be hard to know where to start and what is right path for developing individual digital skills.

That is why will work with leading consumer brands and the creative industries to shift perceptions of digital skills from boring and niche to fun and vital, and will map what’s available and what works to help people meet this challenge.

The launch forms an integral part of ‘Shaping Tomorrow’s City Today’, the Lord Mayor’s mayoral theme which aims to promote a more coherent approach to digital skills and innovation both nationally and across the world.Peter Estlin, Lord Mayor of the City of London said:

“For too long, we’ve expected schools and government to pick up the slack in shaping a digital Britain. It’s vital that we broaden our focus.

“Digital exclusion matters, with around 12 million people lacking basic skills. That number is stubbornly static, despite significant effort. This is a ticking timebomb when it comes to future-fit workers.

“It’s time therefore for major employers to step up. That’s why I’m proud to be launching, a coalition of leaders determined to play their part in this crucial national challenge. Today we’re calling on organisations around the country to commit to preparing their workforce for smarter jobs, and motivating customers to build their digital intelligence.”

Olly Benzecry, Chairman and Managing Director of Accenture UK & Ireland said:

“For people to fully engage in today’s society, both personally and professionally, digital skills are deeply important. It is essential that all facets of society – public, private and charity – come together to address this challenge, which is why Accenture is delighted to be part of the coalition.”

Jan du Plessis, BT Chairman and co-chair of Prime Minister’s Telecoms, Creative, Technology & Media Business Council said:

“Closing the digital skills gap is a national priority. BT is tackling this through our Skills for Tomorrow programme and as a proud founding member of Everyday tasks are becoming increasingly digital: from banking to booking a holiday; completing your taxes online or booking an appointment with your GP; keeping in touch with friends and family; and much more. We have to provide communities, businesses and individuals, including our own employees, with the skills to thrive in the digital age.”

Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation said:

“Good Things Foundation is delighted to be one of the founding partners of A lack of digital skills remains a critical issue in the UK, and we need to overcome the huge motivation gap that exists, by helping people to see that digital is relevant for them. This is a big issue, and one that we need to work together to overcome. I’m sure with the impressive influence of the coalition we can make a significant impact.”

Nick Williams, Managing Director Commercial and Business Banking, Lloyds Banking Group said:

Digital skills are the democratiser of our generation and we are proud to be working together with to help people, businesses and charities build the capability and confidence they need to survive and thrive.

“This new partnership is in line with our existing initiatives – including the Lloyds Bank Academy, our 23,000 colleague Digital Champions and Digital Knowhow Workshops for small business and charities – which are all part of our commitment to help Britain prosper as well as supporting the broader aims of what is striving to achieve.”

Eleanor Bradley, MD of Registry Services and Public Benefit at Nominet said:

“We’re delighted to be playing a key role in as a founding partner and board member. We are also proud to be hosting the Incubator as the first step in establishing the coalition. As a profit with a purpose company focused on delivering public benefit through tech for good projects, this initiative is vital, and very welcome, if we are all to thrive in our digital age and avert a skills gap crisis in the UK.”

Matt Warman, UK Minister for Digital said:

“It is great to see organisations in the private, public and charity sectors join forces to boost digital skills. I want to see more people learn new talents to increase their career prospects and reap the huge benefits of being online. Earlier this year we launched a £1.1 million Digital Skills Innovation Fund to get underrepresented people into tech and digital roles and through our Digital Skills Partnership we are continuing to work with our partners to boost people’s digital capability and confidence.”

List of coalition members:

  • Accenture
  • Barclays
  • Birkbeck, University of London
  • Brunswick
  • BT
  • Catalyst
  • CBI
  • City of London Corporation
  • Deloitte
  • Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Good Things Foundation
  • iDEA
  • Institute of Coding
  • KPMG
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Microsoft
  • Nominet
  • Oliver Wyman
  • Pearson
  • SIX
  • Skills Builder Partnership
  • Tech London Advocates
  • Tech Talent Charter
  • Upskill Digital

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