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Less than half of adults have skills to complete basic digital tasks

Just over 40% of adults have the skills to complete a number of common digital tasks, with older generations struggling more than younger people

Less than half of adults have the digital skills needed to easily complete a number of common tech tasks, according to research by Nominet.

The study has found 42% of adults are able to easily complete digital tasks such as downloading apps, uploading videos or using online maps.

Older people struggled more with these tasks than the younger generation, with 64% of millennials earning the label of “digitally savvy” as opposed to 15% of those born before 1945 and 23% of those born between 1946 and 1964.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, said: “As we upgrade our nation with innovations including 5G, smart cities, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI), people need to be aware of both the risks and possibilities technology has to offer. Most importantly, they need to equip themselves with the skills and knowledge required to thrive in a digitally charged future.”

Generation X, who are born between 1965 and 1980, were still found to be significantly less tech-savvy than millennials, with 46% found to have appropriate digital skills.

But Generation Z, born from 1997 and onwards, were found to be less digitally savvy than the millennials, who were born between 1981 and 1996, and were likely to have been introduced to technology as the rate of adoption increased.

Digital natives is a term used to describe those who have grown up with access to technology, but many believe this is a dangerous label, as this implies they do not need to be taught how to properly use and understand it. Only 34% of Generation Z were considered digitally savvy.

Read more about digital skills

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Those who do not have the digital skills to perform basic tasks such as online shopping are set to lose approximately £744 a year in potential savings – and many people in the UK do not have the digital skills required for most jobs.

Nominet’s research found 11% of baby boomers and 19% of the pre-war generation either can’t or won’t take part in online activities.

The UK is currently suffering from a digital skills gap that is costing the UK economy approximately £63bn a year, and in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, tech skills are going to become even more important.

Younger people were found to be more optimistic about how tech will impact life in the future, with 56% of those over 18 claiming technology will benefit them in the future, while 75% of children between the ages of six and 18 thought the same.

Children were more accepting of growth technologies in general, with 53% of children saying they would be happy to use voice commands to control a robot, as opposed to only 26% of adults. Furthermore, 56% of children would be willing to use a virtual reality (VR) headset, as opposed to 17% of adults; and 31% of children would ride in a driverless car, something only 19% of adults would do.

Changing people’s day-to-day lives

The growing development and adoption of technologies such as robotics, AI, drones and automation are set to change how people live their day-to-day lives, even to the extent that future smart-kitchens may feature internet of things (IoT) connected appliances that can order and deliver shopping for you.

Only 12% of adults claimed they would be happy to let their fridge do their shopping for them in the future – something 44% of children would be happy with.

A focus on digital skills growth in the UK will be important in the future, and the government has launched a survey to find out what technical skills are needed now, and what skills will be needed in the years to come.

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