Digital campaigning charity Go ON UK has launched a programme to boost the online skills of individuals, small businesses and charities in north-east England.
Go ON North East will be working with local authorities and businesses in north-east England to reduce the number of offline people in the region. In 2011 Go ON UK ran its Go ON UK Liverpool campaign, which reduced the number of people offline by 55% in 18 months.
Graham Walker, chief executive of Go ON UK said: “We know from lessons learned that working in partnership on a local level is key to bridging the digital skills gap in the UK. The unprecedented results of Go ON Liverpool have provided us with a blueprint. We now want to do the same, but on a much bigger scale in the north-east of England.
“Councils in the north-east have given a commitment to further stimulate behaviour and attitudinal change to encourage citizens and businesses to become more digitally aware, digitally confident and digitally ready”
In the UK 21% of adults fall below the basic online skills threshold and 7.1% are not online. In north-east England 24% of adults are not online.
Go ON UK has also launched digitalskills.com, which is aimed at people who want to help others to get online. The site includes materials and digital tools to help people with learning resources and guides throughout the region.
Walker said Go ON UK had given its partners 26 weeks to make a difference: “Some partners will run events, provide access points or offer incentives. Others are sharing data, advice, training and space," he said.
"And we encourage everyone to build a network of local digital champions – real people in the region who are willing and able to share their digital skills with others.”
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Paul Watson, chair of the association of North East Councils said: “North-east councils are working hard to build on the good progress already made to encourage businesses and residents to develop and improve their digital skills, build greater confidence and adopt innovative approaches that will improve their employment and life chances.
“At a time when all our efforts are strongly focused on promoting employment in our areas, there is no doubt that digital skills are critical to young people’s educational attainment, access to job opportunities and to the world of work.”
Minister for civil society Nick Hurd said: "We have said that we want Britain to be the most digitally capable country in the world.
“The Go ON campaign is a really important opportunity to help more individuals, businesses and charities seize the possibilities digital provides."