A million small businesses and over 12 million people in the UK don’t have the skills to thrive in the digital era. A charity set up to promote digital skills, Go.On UK has warned this.
It has formed a digital exclusion heatmap, identifying the zones where people are most probable to slip out on the digital revolution.
Over a third of the population in Wales do not have the five basic digital skills as defined by the charity. But Scotland, East Anglia and London, were on top of the group with over 80% of people having those skills.
The map also illustrations that men are less expected to be digitally deprived than women, with 80% having the essential abilities as related to 74% of women.
What are these five skills, without which we are unfit for the digital future? Well if you can solve problems, communicate, make payments, create stuff online and manage information then you are in good shape.
A survey concluded 4,000 people nationwide to assess their skills, coupled with data about income, education, internet access and health, have all facilitated build the exclusion heatmap.
With its Make It Digital project, the BBC is among the institutions backing the map.
Where skills are lacking, poverty and a lack of infrastructure is a part of the story.
Places like Merthyr Tydfil are among the most deprived in the UK with Wales having the lowest levels of internet access.
But the charity speaks when it comes to broadband availability, the UK isn’t doing too badly as compared with other countries, and in use of mobile devices we are ahead of many of our rivals.
So you might think that a country which has taken to social media and online shopping with agitated eagerness would also be a frontrunner in digital skills.
But it appears that we are a slight below average as compared with OECD rivals, and well behind nations like the Netherlands, Japan and Finland.
Martha Lane Fox has warned about the dangers of having a skills gap
It is that nearly a quarter of the population are being left out and that has serious consequences for the rest of us.
The problem is not that we don’t have quite skilled people starting companies, generating stuff online, even just enjoying the experiences that the online world can offer.
Chaired by the government’s prior digital advisor Baroness Martha Lane Fox, Go On UK is cautionary warning of a threat to social mobility, economic growth and productivity if we don’t close by the skills gap.
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