From education to employment

Government plans to make the UK one of the most digitally-skilled nations

Government has announced plans to make training in basic digital skills free for adults lacking relevant qualifications.

The proposals, to be included in an amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, will mean publicly-funded basic digital skills training being offered free of charge to adults in England who need it. This is part of the Government’s ambition for the UK to be one of the most digitally-skilled nations in the world.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said:

In today’s digital economy, being able to use modern technology and navigate the Internet should be considered as important as English and Maths. But too many people struggle to get by, with more than ten million adults in England lacking the basic digital skills they need.

We will make sure all adults who need it can receive free training in digital skills to equip them for the modern world.

An ONS survey shows that an estimated 5.3 million people in the UK have never used the Internet.

A recent report by Ipsos Mori/Go ON UK found:

  • More than 10 million of the adult population in England lack basic digital skills. While

  • The problem can stop people from thriving in a digitised workplace and job market. As many as 35 per cent of people in lower socio-economic groups lack basic digital skills, compared with 13 per cent of those in higher socio-economic groups.

  • Age is another factor preventing people benefitting from services such as banking, shopping and government tools which are increasingly moving online. Just 43 per cent of over 65s have basic digital skills, compared to 93 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds.

Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:

We are committed to making sure that everyone, regardless of age or background has the digital skills they need to enjoy the benefits of modern technology. Whether it’s applying for a job, accessing vital services or as consumers, our world is increasingly moving online – and we don’t want anyone left behind.

Our reforms will mean that people who lack basic digital skills will get the training they need to get on the ladder of opportunity for the jobs of the future.

Courses will be delivered by colleges and other adult education providers, and training will be funded from the existing Adult Education Budget.

Government will consult on the details of this new offer in the coming months.

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