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UK economy could gain £14bn by investing in digital skills

A report by the Tinder Foundation and Go On UK reveals that investing in digital skills could produce £14bn for the economy

Training the public in digital skills could contribute more than £14bn to the UK economy over the next 10 years, a report from the Tinder Foundation has revealed.

The research by the Tinder Foundation and Go On UK estimated that if the 12.6 million UK adults without basic digital skills were taught how to use computers, the productivity benefits would produce billions in savings for the economy.

“Digital is bringing about an industrial revolution, with all jobs and workplaces underpinned by digital technology,” said Helen Milner, CEO of Tinder Foundation.

“It’s vital that we provide people with the skills they need to find employment and to use digital technology on a day-to-day basis in their work, leading to major rewards not only for individuals, but also for national productivity.”

Milner challenges the government to aim for a “100% digitally skilled nation” to ensure the UK gains competitive advantage for its economy.

The research suggested that if the UK spent £1.65bn on skills and digital devices over the next 10 years, it would see a return of almost £10 for every £1 invested as a result of increased productivity.

This would also have an effect in workplaces, where digital skills and hardware skills could lead to a more skilled workforce and increase the UK’s net earnings by £358m.

However, investment in digital skills is not enough, and Go On UK and the Tinder Foundation said the UK’s investment in skills needs to run alongside prime minister David Cameron’s recent pledge to invest £1.7bn in broadband over the next five years.

Some organisations believe companies across the IT sector should be doing more to collaborate and address the growing skills gap.  

According to Go On UK and the Tinder Foundation, this collaborative approach, which should be led by the government, is the way to ensure connectivity and digital literacy grow alongside each other.

More than six million adults have never used the internet, and 23% of adults in the UK cannot achieve five of the most basic digital skills, such as information management, communication, transactions, problem solving and creation.

Rachel Neaman, CEO of Go On UK, highlighted that giving adults access to the internet is only a small stepping stone towards digital inclusion.

“Universal basic digital skills would give government a direct cash return of £1.8bn in increased tax receipts, lower jobseeker allowance payments and NHS primary care savings, in addition to the individual and societal benefits it would provide,” she said.

“As we look ahead to the spending review, we cannot afford to ignore the direct correlation between basic digital skills and the huge potential savings to UK plc.”

Earlier in November 2015, Martha Lane Fox, Go On UK’s chair and founder, highlighted the importance of digital inclusion for all genders, ages and ethnicities in pushing the economy forward.

Read more about digital inclusion

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The truth, both there and here, is even broader than this. Unless we start investing heavily in education of all sorts, we're facing a deep pit. And by then, alas, ignorance will have won out and it will be too late for quick fix. 
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