Technology changes everything, yet there are approximately 9.5 million people across the UK who don’t have basic online skills. Digitally excluded people are more likely to be socially disadvantaged, become isolated and have lower incomes, as well as less likely to manage their finances, access public services and have children who underachieve at school. Our economy is also impacted with 90% of jobs in the EU expected to need at least basic computer skills.
Following the publication of the National Survey for Wales: 2013-14. The results confirmed that 21% (approximately 514,814) of the Welsh adult population (aged 18 or over) do not regularly use the internet. The Welsh Government has funded Communities 2.0 to deliver digital inclusion across Wales, a new programme will start in April 2014. http://communities2point0.org.uk/
To improve the current situation, we believe that:
- Basic online skills are a right not a privilege.
- We need Digital Citizens, Workers and Makers to build a knowledge economy in a socially just and economically thriving society.
- The digital skills gap cannot be addressed solely by young people.
- A digitally literate population would mean UK employers could compete better on the global stage.
- Digital skills should be integrated in all learning.
- Technology should include not exclude more people in learning.
As well as developing support for disadvantaged groups, we are also researching the needs of online learners, the use of learners’ own devices and the importance of technology in family learning. The latter links closely with the new school computing curriculum which covers aspects of digital literacy and programming.
Digital tools to help aid learning are important in all contexts. In 2015 we reviewed and updated the award winning Maths Everywhere (The Learning and Work Institute England site) app to make it more responsive to mobile technology and allow its conversion for use in prisons. We are also working with a number of government agencies to support the take up of technology in prisons, where security precautions can make digital learning prohibitive, despite it being just as important in prisons as outside of them.