Government plans to make the UK one of the most digitally skilled nations – Learning and Work Institute responds

4 October 2016

Learning and Work Institute have today welcomed the UK Government’s new policy to make the UK one of the most digitally-skilled nations by offering publicly-funded basic digital skills training free of charge to ‘adults in England who need it’.

Learning and Work Institute have long argued that all adults should have access to basic digital skills. Digital skills are just as important as literacy and numeracy for life and work in the 21st century.

The government’s announcement is an exciting and positive development which could positively impact on social and economic inclusion, resulting in a fairer and more socially mobile society.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute, commented: “We’ve long argued that digital is just as important as literacy and numeracy for life and work in the 21st century and therefore we welcome the Government’s announcement of access to free digital training.

We await details as to how this will work in practice, but we believe that embedding technology in all learning is a viable approach to delivering the agenda, as digital both enhances and engages people in other learning while increasing learners’ digital skills for life and work.

To succeed in getting all adults digitally skilled, we must focus on overcoming barriers for people without these skills, who are likely to be those with low level qualifications, those furthest from the labour market, those in low skilled jobs, older people, those with physical impairments and those with low incomes.

Learning and Work Institute research shows that barriers of confidence, motivation and low levels of prior learning can be addressed through holistic approaches to learning digital skills, by embedding digital across a whole range of areas using the opportunities offered by the devolved Adult Education Budget.“

Stephen Evans added: “Digital exclusion has been described as “one of the great social challenges of our age” – This new government policy is an exciting opportunity to address that challenge. Our Citizens’ Curriculum pilots have shown success by making sure that digital, English, maths, civic, health and financial capabilities are embedded into existing programmes which motivate adults to learn and are relevant to their lives and their work.”