Basic digital capability is a universal workplace skills gap.

This page is about the 2022 report Essential Digital Skills for Work (EDS). Lots of the stats are still relevant but we have summarised the new latest report here.

There are 20 Essential Digital Skills (EDS) for Work.They’re not high tech skills like programming or pivot tables. They’re basics like staying safe and sending emails. 59% of us don’t have them all.  

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. 

Futuredotnow is a charity focussing on digital skills at work and is a really good place to start, with lots of downloadable, practical resources. There's more about the framework on

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:

woman in a call centre, smiling
  • Embedded in your organisation: the Lloyds report shows the people like to learn from people they know already and that those with poor digital skills appreciate face-to-face (not online) support that is ongoing, rather than delivered in one or two sessions.
  • Scalable: All organisations need to improve the digital skills of their workforces. Digital Champions programmes can be scaled to fit the business, however big or small.
  • Flexible & adaptable: you can chose what your champions learn and that they teach their end learners, prioritising the skills that matter to your organisation.
  • Rewarding: Champions like being Champions. Our courses are CPD accredited, but as well as a valuable qualification, people also get real satisfaction helping others and making a difference .

Next Steps

Our solution

We have courses and resources to help organisations tackle the digital skills gap at work.