Essential Digital Skills

Earlier this month, I joined many people and organisations who champion digital inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group’s launch of their Consumer Digital Index 2018.

The digital index tracks the number of people in the UK who have none, some or all of the digital skills they need to benefit from being online. At the same event, the Tech Partnership shared the first update of the framework that sets out what the five Essential Digital Skills are – called the Essential Digital Skills Framework.

The 2018 index shows that 4.3 million UK adults don’t have any Essential Digital Skills. This is about 8% of the UK population, and it’s encouraging to see the number of people without any of these key skills has been going down over recent years. Less positive is the finding that the number of people who don’t have all five Essential Digital Skills has remained more-or-less unchanged at 11.3 million people, over 1 in 5 of the UK population.

Many people who aren’t online say they don’t see how the internet can interest them, and others say they lack confidence to use the internet or are worried about privacy and security. Lloyds’ Consumer Digital Index shows that that majority of people who don’t use the internet say that “nothing” will get them online.

We know that digital skills help people to save money, manage their finances, stay in touch with friends and family, and find a job – but it looks as if we need to work harder to describe these benefits to people who don’t yet use the internet.

As more services become ‘digital by default’, it will become ever more important for everyone to know what digital skills they need and what opportunities are available to develop those skills. Digital Champions can be a route for people who lack Essential Digital Skills, or who aren’t confident online, to learn more about the internet from someone like them – without the pressure of joining a formal course or qualification. If we are to succeed in getting more people to gain Essential Digital Skills, I believe it will be essential to tailor these digital skills to an individual’s interests and needs, and Digital Champions are perfectly placed to help achieve this.

Digital Champions are the golden thread that runs through all of the One Digital partners’ projects. If you’d like to find out more about different Digital Champion models, check out our Toolkit. And if you’re interested in working with One Digital partners on a digital skills project contact us at info@onedigitaluk.com

Sarah Cant

One Digital Programme Director