We are Digitally Divided
Nearly 20 million people have “low” or “very low” digital skills. That’s 38% of the adult population who don’t have the skills needed to thrive in society today.
The Digitally Excluded
- 14m (27%) have very low digital skills and 5.7m (11%) low skills.
If you are older, less affluent, unemployed or have some form of impairment, you are more likely to be digitally disadvantaged.
- 5.3m (10%) lack digital basis and Essential Digital Skills for everyday life
- 4.5m (8%) can’t turn on a device and enter log-in information themselves
- 5m people (10%) can’t use an app
- 1/3rd of those offline struggle to interact with health care services, followed by local council or government services.
If you’re in the lowest group, it’s hard to get out of it. And the pace of change these days means that even some people who HAD good digital skills struggle to maintain them and are slowly becoming excluded.
On top of this, access is precarious. As of May 2022, 35% of people said the cost of living was impacting their ability to go online. But only 3.5% of those who are eligible for social tariffs have accessed them (from the BBC).
And at the bottom of the scale...
- 6.7m (13%) are in the “ultra-low” band - and behave differently to the “lows” (e.g. unlikely to stream or use email and are not confident online).
- There are 0.5m people who are completely unconnected. 86% say it’s a personal choice and 58% say it’s too complicated. They’re worried about privacy and security and they’re just not interested.
The Digitally Included
20.2m (39%) of us have high skills, and 12.4 (24%) have very high skills. There are clear financial benefits to having these skills:
- 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 2.2x more frequently and 5.1 times more money, a “digital dividend” Lloyds puts at £659 a year.
There are “soft” benefits too. The Lloyds 2021 report included stats on what people gain from digital skills, highlighting trends that will only have increased as the pandemic pushes services and organisations to be “digital first”.
- Managing everyday life: 77% of those online acknowledged that technology helps them in a number of ways, making their lives easier.
- An antidote to isolation: 51% say the Internet helped them to feel less alone.
- Managing health and wellbeing: 37% of people say the Internet helps them manage and improve their physical health; 25% of people say the Internet helps them manage and improve their mental health.
- Stimulates learning and curiosity: 91% of those online plan to continue with their new online activities in the future. 38% of Internet users have engaged in e-learning for the first time or in new ways.
How do we get people digitally included?
People need data, devices and digital skills. We specialise in the skills side. People like to learn in a range of ways – mixing different kinds of support.
- 81% want to learn online
- 79% want to learn at their own pace/ self-guided
- 74% want face-to-face support.
How people want to learn is often dependent on their confidence level. The more digitally confident you are, the more you like to self-direct your learning and do it online. The less capable prefer to do it in a more guided, face-to-face way.
People like learning from friends (72%) and family (69%)
They need continued support - 1 in 4 beginners don’t use digital skills with continued support.
The Role of Employers
Employers need people with digital skills.
- Three-quarters of all jobs at all levels now demand digital skills (DCMS Report 2019)
- 92% businesses say that having a basic level of digital skills is important for employees at their organisation (Learning and Work, Exploring the Digital Skills Gap 2021)
- 76% businesses say that a lack of digital skills would affect the profitability of their business (as above)
And the work place is the highest driver for learning new skills – both through incentive and opportunity:
- 64% say they upskilled for work reasons.
- 63% of those in work receive some kind of digital skills training.
This can make it harder to acquire the skills if you’re not in work
- 1.6million (22%) of those without a job lack the digital basics.
Employers need to think not just about supporting digital skills but about raising awareness of digital inclusion and digital engagement more broadly. Benefits accrue to employers directly through the development of a digitally competent workforce and in their evolution as a digitally responsible business:
The Role of Business
This has changed since the pandemic.There is a growing sense that businesses have a responsibility to support their customers, especially if they are digital first. But there is also an increased openness in learners to being taught digital skills by these businesses:
- Learners at all stages are open to learning from large brands (47%)
- They are as receptive to receiving digital skills training from for example, banks as getting support in places like online centres/ libraries (38% for both).