27th March, 2018 by Katharinet

Whilst many people can’t imagine life without the internet, others can’t understand or tap into the benefits that digital can bring.

For organisations, understanding how much it is worth investing in supporting people online is an essential step but not one that is always easy to make. This is partly because the benefits are multi-layered and therefore impossible or complicated to quantify.

It is also challenging as it depends on the circumstances of the individual. With person centred training being evidenced as the most successful way of supporting those with low or no digital skills, then the outcomes can be harder to give generic values to.

Valuing digital inclusion

At a recent One Digital workshop we ran with HACT we asked delegates what the benefits are they would like to be able to ‘value’ to create an essential business case for delivering a digital inclusion project. There are some obvious ones around employability for example, but what about a carer returning to work, or someone with a disability being able find work? These felt like higher (more valuable outcomes) for the individual in terms of Social Return on Investment which is what HACT specialise in measuring.

There was agreement that there is real value to things like flexible working, working from home, being able to use assistive technology, returning to work after maternity leave and of reducing isolation of carers, but these are hard to attach a figure to. Being safe online too should be valued, not so much a skill but an awareness.

Benefits to the organisations can be straightforward in terms of channel shift, but again these benefits can be spread so wide in an organisation like a local authority or housing providers it is not always obvious nor easy to articulate the raft potential savings. Many of our stories from Digital Champions helping end learners though show that where digital skills enable (for example) someone to see their grandchild for the first time, that is priceless.

Useful links

- Digital Unite and HACT workshop notes on valuing digital skills

- HACT Social Value Calculator

- Report - The Economic Impact of Digital Skills and Inclusion in the UK

- BT Social Return on Investment