Action to tackle Britain’s Digital Skills Divide

1 March 2017

In response to the Government’s UK Digital Strategy, published 1 March 2017, Learning and Work Institute is calling for action to tackle Britain’s stark digital skills divide.

There is a 22 percentage point gap between areas of the country with the highest and lowest basic digitally skilled populations and a 22 percentage point gap between richer and poorer groups of people. In Wales, 38 per cent of adults lack basic digital skills. In Scotland that figure is 19 per cent and in London 16 per cent.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute said:

“The Government’s Digital Strategy recognises the wider benefits to businesses and society of a more digitally skilled nation in terms of investment, productivity and social mobility. There is clear evidence that, for a country that works for everyone, the digital skills divide must be closed.

“Learning and Work has long argued that access to free basic digital skills should be a right for all adults. We welcomed the inclusion of free basic digital skills training when the policy was announced last year and look forward to more detail in the coming months. The UK’s basic skills challenges still include literacy and numeracy too. We have made the case for an additional £200 million investment through a new Citizens’ Skills Entitlement to enable all adults to have access to relevant basic skills by 2030.

“We are pleased that the Industrial Strategy and the Digital Strategy recognise the need for education, training and re-training throughout life. But, there are still 1.2 million fewer people in adult learning than in 2010, including a 280,000 drop in adult basic skills learners. We hope that next week’s Budget begins a programme of re-investment in adult education, following years of cuts, in order to provide the learning opportunities the strategy says we need.”