The Headline Facts & Stats
The Work EDS are part of a wider digital skills survey led by Lloyds. They fit into a full framework of skills, with foundation skills (like turning computers on) and EDS for Life and Work. You can read the latest EDS for Work report in full, published in by Lloyds and Futuredotnow, along with the wider report about UK digital skills.
The skills are based around 5 areas; being safe and legal online; problem solving; communicating; handling information and content, and transacting. The 2023 report found:
- 4.5 million of us (12%) don’t have the basic foundation skills
- 3.2 million of us (8%) can’t do any of the work tasks
- 8.6 million (22%) can’t do at least 1 task in each area
Why does it matter?
It’s bad for employers, individuals and society as a whole.
There’s a risk for businesses - 40% of all workers can’t do all the basics of staying safe and legal online. And there’s a cost too, not just in doing business-as-usual, but for growth: 35% cannot use digital tools to improve productivity.
It's costly for society & individuals as it deepens the digital divide. In EDS for Work, the industry you work in is the main determinant of the skills you have. People who work in marketing, for example, have better digital skills than people who work in construction. But everyone needs digital skills: all manual jobs have “digital touchpoints” from finding and getting work on a digital device to checking your wages on electronic payslips. And some areas like health have become increasingly reliant on digital skills. In all areas, you get paid more, the better your digital skills are.
- Those with high digital capability make up to £442 a month more than those in a similar job at a similar level but with low digital skills.
- They save 2.2 times more frequently and 5.1 times more money, a “digital dividend” Lloyds puts at £659 a year.
As ever, the most vulnerable are likely to have the least skills. Those with no formal qualifications, on lower incomes, living with an impairment or from lower socio-economic groups are some of the most likely to under index when it comes to having all 20 tasks in the Work EDS.
The challenges are even higher for those not in employment who are more than twice as likely to lack the EDS for work. Only a third can do all the work tasks, and 20% cannot do any at all. And according to the report, 82% of jobs require digital skills, making it much harder for them to get back into work and learn new skills.
Though the most vulnerable are hit the hardest, it's worth remembering that the digital skills gap affects all sectors and groups. For example :
- 33% of people in Tech can't do all 20 tasks
- Neither can 38% of people earning over £75,000
- Or 50% of those with a degree
What can businesses do?
Every business can benefit from building basic digital capability and confidence. It starts with recognising the problem and the benefits of working to build people's skills to boost efficiency and productivity. It needs to be part of every organisation's digital strategy.
This is particularly true for small to mid-size companies (SMEs with under 1-249 employees). They account for 99% of all UK businesses, but only 43% provide any level of training and they often struggle to find the time to up-skill their workers.
How can Digital Champions help?
We’ve noticed a sharp increase in the number of organisations we work with who want to upskill their workforce or improve EDS for work. These range from financial institutions to farmers. It’s indicative of the pervasive nature of digital that everyone needs digital skills no matter what they do. Digital Champions programmes can help because they are: