Last week, Good Things Foundation was delighted to be awarded the 2018 Connected Britain Digital Skills Award for our work on Future Digital Inclusion, celebrating the trailblazers in digital innovation across the country. This is testament to the passion, commitment and hard work of Online Centres, and all those in the network involved in delivering the programme should be very proud.
We're now in the fifth year of our Future Digital Inclusion programme, funded by the Department for Education. Working through around 150 Online Centres across the country, with many more centres contributing, Future Digital Inclusion is helping over 200,000 people to gain the confidence they need to engage with digital technology and build their basic digital skills.
It's the Government's key national investment in basic digital skills and shows a deep commitment to digital inclusion, both as a platform for further learning and as a powerful driver of social inclusion.
It also reinforces how the Online Centres Network provides a vital resource in every area of the country, re-engaging those facing barriers in their lives, particularly those who have disengaged from education, and helping them build their confidence and progress.
Here's why it matters:
- Being online provides a range of benefits, including saving money, feeling more connected and less isolated, and improving health and wellbeing.
- Digital skills are also increasingly essential for work: within 20 years 90% of all jobs will require digital skills, and 72% of employers say they wouldn't interview someone without basic digital skills.
- 11.3 million people in the UK still don't have all of the basic digital skills needed to participate in society and get on at work, and 4.3 million don't have any digital skills.
- Those who are unemployed are three times as likely to have no digital skills as those in employment, and 46% of those with no digital skills earn less than £17,000 per annum.
- 25% of those with a registered disability (3.5 million people) are offline compared to 6% across the rest of the UK population.
Motivation is still the biggest reason people have for being offline (39% of those offline say this), followed by confidence, privacy and security concerns.
This is why the Online Centres model is so important: building trusted relationships with people who face both digital and social exclusion; finding out what positive changes they'd like to make in their lives; and through this helping them gain the confidence to engage with digital technology and the skills they need to thrive online.
With support from Good Things Foundation and funding from the Department for Education, Future Digital Inclusion allows Online Centres to reach into communities and help those facing the greatest challenges. We're already close to meeting the programme's target of helping 1 million people enter the digital world, and we're looking forward to helping more.
It's fantastic to see the work of Online Centres recognised with this Connected Britain Award, and we'll be doing everything we can to help the network go from strength to strength.
Beyond this, with programmes like Future Digital Inclusion, and investment from the Government, local councils, the private sector and grant-making bodies, we can continue to make progress towards eradicating digital exclusion in the UK.
(Sources: Consumer Digital Index (2018), Lloyds Banking Group; Digital Skills Crisis (2016), House of Lords Science and Technology Committee)