New research reveals 38% of Brits face challenges because of a lack of digital skills

Research commissioned by Virgin Media O2 highlights highlights the digital skills challenges faced by the UK population and the reality of digital exclusion.

Press release: New research commissioned by our Strategic Partners Virgin Media O2 shines a light on the reality of digital exclusion for people in the UK. The research reveals that people are confident using Facebook and email – but many struggle when it comes to more complex tasks like booking medical appointments or making a video call. 

Using PowerPoint, photo editing tools and playing games consoles are other tasks people struggle to do online. 

A poll of 2,000 adults found that: 

  • Only 54% of people consider themselves ‘tech savvy’
  • 43% feel there are so many apps, online platforms and software, they can’t keep up with them – which rises to 58% for people aged 65 or over.
  • 38% said they face challenges because of their lack of tech skills,resulting in more than 21% feeling like they’re being left behind. 
  • 14% say there have been points in their lives where they could have considered themselves ‘digitally illiterate’.

Good Things Foundation’s annual digital inclusion campaign, Get Online Week, is helping the nation to learn and improve its digital skills. The National Digital Inclusion Network is hosting more than 850 free events this week, ensuring people can access local, friendly support to get online. 

Helen Milner OBE, CEO, Good Things Foundation said:

“Since the pandemic we’ve seen the digital divide deepen. People excluded from the internet are locked out of all of the economic benefits it brings, like saving money, improved job prospects and the ability to work flexibly – as well as the higher risk of loneliness.

“This research confirms what we already know about the digital skills gap – with one in five adults lacking the most basic digital skills needed for everyday life. That’s why during our annual national campaign, Get Online Week, the National Digital Inclusion Network is hosting events for their local communities to help them get online.

“This underpins the wider work Good Things Foundation is doing with VirginMedia O2 and our partners to get data, devices and digital skills to the people who need help the most.Together we can help fix the digital divide – for good.”

Dana Haidan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: 

“We know for many people technology can be daunting – especially with new apps, online services and tools like AI appearing all the time. It can be hard to know where to get help with computers, phones and tablets, and how to get the best from the internet.

“That’s why as part of our goal to improve the digital skills of six million people by the end of 2025, we’re offering hundreds of free digital skills lessons at community organisations across the UK this Get Online Week with Good Things Foundation. We want to help people feel more confident and capable online – whether it’s learning how to book online medical appointments, uploading a CV to a jobs site or video calling a loved one.”

The study also found that more than a third (37%) of Brits believe learning digital skills is more important than being able to read or write. But almost a third (29%) of respondents said they had never had someone show them how to improve their digital skills. 20% feel they missed out on an opportunity to learn how to do a basic online task, and feel it’s now too late to learn.

According to the figures, of those who have struggled with a piece of technology, 17% report it has slowed down their life and made it inconvenient.

Those with low household incomes – earning between £15,000 to £30,000 – said they’d struggle to use AI tools like Chat GPT (39%) or take part in virtual job interviews (22%), and even one in 10 aren’t comfortable using a tablet.

Despite this, almost a quarter of Brits (23%) are motivated to learn so they can improve their digital skills.

This research is a stark reminder of the importance of digital inclusion services, we must ensure that people aren’t left behind and that we work to build a more digitally inclusive society.

Get Online Week

Get Online Week is our annual campaign which encourages people to improve their digital skills through local support.