Getting us ready for change in the workplace

A year on from the launch of a programme to support people underemployed and unemployed due to low digital skills, our Researcher Joseph Chambers reflects on some of the emerging findings.

Advances in information communication technologies – such as smart devices, video conferencing and online software – have resulted in a rapid increase in the digitisation and automation of work (Good Things Foundation 2018). But contrary to some popular beliefs, these technologies do not always eliminate jobs, and can instead change the types of work we do and how we do them.

Many people have the necessary digital skills for a workplace that is increasingly reliant on technology. But for the 54% of working age adults without the necessary digital skills, rapid, technology-led change in the workplace presents a challenge, causing underemployment and unemployment for many (ONS 2019).

To help tackle this issue affecting the UK workforce, in September 2019 Good Things Foundation partnered with Accenture and Nesta to deliver Future Proof: Skills for Work. Working with 13 community partners in our Online Centres Network, Future Proof has supported over 600 people to become better prepared for employment by helping them gain the skills and behavioural competencies needed in the modern workplace.

People who took part in the programme came from a variety of backgrounds and possessed different skills sets. Some who took part were already employed with a higher level of digital skills and were looking to refresh these, whereas others were more limited users of technology and the internet, currently unemployed but seeking work.

Future Proof learners were supported to access a wide range of learning resources including Accenture’s own content from Future Learn and the Skills to Succeed Academy, as well as our own Learn My Way and Make it Click learning sites.

Online learning was blended with support from staff and volunteers from our community partners, primarily provided face to face – but this soon switched to remote support once Covid-19 struck.

Our final report is taking shape and will be launched towards the end of this year. But we can see a range of positive impacts, including;

  • Nearly 70% felt better prepared for employment since taking part, with many suggesting they had a better understanding of what skills employers are looking for and how to get these
  • 67% felt they had increased their ICT skills
  • 77 people (64%) demonstrated increased career resilience

Future Proof’s success has been in helping people to develop both the necessary behavioural and digital skills that are critical in the modern workplace. As outcomes from this, people have gained employment, expanded their business and obtained work experience, plus encouraging learners to continue undertaking training and personal development as part of lifelong learning.

At Good Things Foundation we are delighted that over a short period of time, against the challenging backdrop of lockdown and economic uncertainty, Future Proof has demonstrated significant potential as a scaleable employment development programme.