Seven-step guide to bridge digital skills gap revealed

A guide to help the UK get online has been released by the Carnegie UK Trust

A seven-step guide to help people to get online has been released by the Carnegie UK Trust.

Aimed at local authorities, landlords and other public and voluntary sector organisations, the guide has been published as part of the trust’s Making Digital Real report in partnership with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

The report highlights that one size does not fit all when trying to bridge the digital skills gap. Figures in the report reveal approximately one-fifth of UK households do not have access to basic internet services. According to the report the poorest households are the most likely to miss out on digital skills.

The guide encourages leadership, involving people and communities, to address the barriers preventing people from going online. These barriers include gaining access to equipment, connection costs and fears people may have about using technology.

Douglas White, head of policy at Carnegie UK Trust, said: "We know access to the internet can help transform people’s lives – it can help people to access public services more easily, achieve higher levels of educational attainment and improve employment prospects, which in turn can help provide a boost to local economies. Despite this, a fifth of the UK population remain offline.

“The new guide provides an easy-to-follow reference guide for local authorities and business organisations to consider when undertaking activities to help boost digital inclusion in their region. Technology really has helped transform the way we live our lives – it’s therefore essential that the country’s final fifth are not forgotten about.”

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 the 2011 Go ON Liverpool campaign which saw a 55% reduction in offline adults in the city in an 18-month period has formed a blueprint for the Go ON UK regional pathfinder which started in the North East at the end of last year.

“The Carnegie UK Trust’s report reinforces the message that everyone has their role to play if we are to achieve our ambitious goal of making the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.”

Working in partnership on a local level is key to bridging the digital skills gap in the UK

Graham Walker, Go ON UK

The report highlights approaches taken to encourage people online in Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, Sunderland, Wiltshire and Fife. These include training volunteer Digital Champions to share internet skills, making affordable internet available to those living in socially rented homes, and kitting out a bus with digital technologies to demonstrate digital skills to communities.

One case study mentioned in the report is Leeds Federated Community's Hugo project. Sue Jennings, the development manager and digital inclusion lead for Leeds Federated Community, said: “With so many vital services moving online, having the means and ability to effectively use the internet is of vital importance for both our economic and social wellbeing.

“The Hugo project aims to reach those most at risk of digital exclusion in Leeds to ensure that people have the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the most of the opportunities provided by the internet.”

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