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Nominet Trust is investing more than £600,000 in initiatives across the UK to help disadvantaged young people acquire digital skills.
The tech for good funding firm’s Digital Reach programme aims to find and fund organisations across the UK, helping them to develop and scale their existing efforts to provide young people with digital skills.
Vicki Hearn, director of Nominet Trust, said the project could reach more young people by utilising the relationships these organisations already have with other partners or local communities.
Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, which founded and funds Nominet Trust, said: “Working closely with expert organisations that have existing relationships with the young people we need to reach to support their broader confidence is a positive move, not only for those young people, but for the future of the digital economy. Engaging those who risk being left behind economically and digitally is vital if we are to take seriously the development of our future hiring pool and strengthen our digital skills in the UK.”
Action for Children, Carers Trust, Home-Start, #techmums, The Children’s Society, City & Guilds Group, UK Youth, Wales Co-operative Centre, YMCA Swansea, Llamau and GISDA will take part in a series of pilots over a nine-month period in an effort to reach as many young people as possible and give them the digital skills needed to change their lives.
The pilots will vary. For example, Action for Children hopes to use funding to digitise its current paper-based content about employability programmes in urban Scotland in an effort to reach more people, Carers Trust will work with the Good Things Foundation to develop an e-learning platform for young carers, and Home-Start and #techmums will work together to help 500 young mothers learn digital skills.
Each pilot will be assessed by its ability to scale to reach as many young disadvantaged people as possible.
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The programme aims to start by engaging with 4,000 young people from vulnerable or disadvantaged backgrounds.
Research by Nominet Trust has found that those aged between 15 and 24 are most likely to face multiple forms of disadvantage, while industries across the UK are suffering from skills gaps.
As the world becomes increasingly tech-driven, digital skills will be vital for everyone going forward, and it has been predicted that a majority of today’s children will have jobs in the future that do not yet exist.
Hearn added: “Digitally disadvantaged young people are among the hardest to reach and we need new models to engage with them to disrupt the cycle of disadvantage and exclusion. Over the coming months, we will be supporting the six pilots and evaluating which are the most effective in helping disadvantaged young people acquire basic digital skills. Through Digital Reach, we hope to create models that can be replicated to address the issue at scale and inspire other organisations to take a fresh look at their approaches.”
A lack of digital skills across the UK is estimated to be costing the economy £63bn a year, and lacking the basic digital skills to perform tasks such as shopping online is reckoned to be costing individuals about £744 a year.