Social change charity Good Things Foundation has helped over 1 million people to gain the digital skills they need for life and work.
This major milestone has been achieved through the Future Digital Inclusion programme – backed by a £15 million investment by the Department for Education – and delivered in communities across England.
The five-year programme is working with community organisations in the Online Centres Network to help people who are excluded from the digital world learn the skills they need to benefit from technology. Over 80% of those helped face social exclusion, including unemployment, poverty, low skills or a disability.
Digital exclusion remains a critical national issue: 11.3 million UK adults lack at least one digital skill and 4.3 million people have no digital skills. These people are missing out on the benefits of technology, from saving money to finding health information online and communicating with others; and for many, using Government online services is a necessity. At current rates of progress, by 2028 there will still be 6.9 million people without the digital skills required for life and work.
People without digital skills say a lack of motivation is their biggest barrier to going online, and many are disengaged from the idea of learning. The Future Digital Inclusion programme addresses these barriers by building trust and providing flexible, open-ended support in community locations. The programme has also helped a high proportion of people to achieve other positive outcomes, including progressing to further learning (86%), increasing employability (76%), improving health and wellbeing (60%) and using public services online (84%)1.
Future Digital Inclusion supports people to learn a range of basic digital skills, from using a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen for the first time, to using internet banking, accessing digital health resources and applying for work online. The programme brings together face-to-face support in communities, provided by Online Centres, with a range of resources that enable people to learn digital skills. This includes Learn My Way, an online learning platform developed by Good Things Foundation for those with low digital confidence and skills.
The people whose lives have been changed by Future Digital Inclusion include Carolyn Hill, who was supported through her local Online Centre, Kensington Community Learning Centre in Liverpool.
When Carolyn, 42, was suddenly made redundant, she needed to use a computer to look for a new job online. She says: "I was useless. I didn't know how to turn a computer on, never mind do anything on them. I had to ask my children to help me get set up to do job searches. I'd find myself just waiting for them to come home from school so I could start searching."
"But the people working at the centre, in such a short space of time, taught me to use the computer. It was scary but I picked it up pretty easily in the end. Without them, I would have really struggled to get to where I am now.
“I was devastated when I lost my job but now I’ve got a new job I love. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and I got there in the end - and it's the best place to go."
Helen Milner OBE, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation, said:
“If you're not using the internet in 2019, you’re at a huge disadvantage. Technology continues to change how we live and work, and those excluded from the digital world are being left behind. They’re also overwhelmingly those more likely to be socially excluded in a range of ways.
“It’s vital we help them gain the confidence and skills they need, and evidence and experience show that community-based support is the most effective approach. The Government’s investment in Future Digital Inclusion is incredibly important, providing thousands of community organisations with the resources they need to build digital skills into the support they offer to those most in need.
“We are hugely proud to have reached this milestone because every one of the million people the programme has helped has a story like Carolyn’s. But with 11.3 million people still lacking at least one digital skill, there is still more to do to end digital exclusion in the UK, and we will continue to work hard with Government and other partners to close the digital divide once and for all.”
Anne Milton MP, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said:
“Digital exclusion is a huge challenge for many people. It is estimated that 1 in 5 of us do not have the basic digital skills we need to do things the majority take for granted, like applying for a job, shopping online, keeping in touch with family and friends or making a doctors’ appointment. For those for whom smartphones are part of their lives it’s hard to imagine how tough life can be without those digital skills.
"So, I’m thrilled that over 1 million people have improved their basic digital skills thanks to the great work of the Good Things Foundation, through their Future Digital Inclusion programme.
“We want everyone to get the digital skills they need to be part of the world today and tomorrow. To support this, we are overhauling the national standards setting out the digital skills people need to get on in life and work. From 2020 adults will have the opportunity to undertake improved digital qualifications free of charge.”
For more information please contact the Good Things Foundation press office at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07801 897737.
Notes to editors:
Good Things Foundation is a social change charity that supports socially excluded people to improve their lives through digital. Digital technology and community action are at the heart of everything we do. Good Things Foundation brings together thousands of community partners: the Online Centres Network, reaching deep into communities to help people gain the support and digital skills they need to change their lives and overcome social challenges.
1. The economic impact of Digital Inclusion in the UK: A report for Good Things Foundation by Cebr. Good Things Foundation evaluation of the Future Digital Inclusion Programme. Statistics taken from Good Things Foundation’s Learner and Progression surveys which are administered through Learn My Way and IFF Research.
After getting online, Carolyn Hill now has a job she loves.