Digital Skills & Learning

The ability to use technology is essential for work, life and learning in the 21st century


Approximately 12.6 million adults in the UK lack digital skills which are essential for full participation in 21st century society: for work, for life and for learning. By 2015, approximately 90% of all jobs will require basic ICT skills, yet an estimated 80% of people with low levels of education lack these skills and are more likely to be socially disadvantaged, suffer from isolation, have lower incomes and have children who underachieve at school. As technology evolves, more advanced digital skills are needed for people to remain in employment or progress in their careers.

Current education systems are failing to prepare people with the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy, as advances in technology put 10m low skill jobs at risk of redundancy in the next 20 years. If not addressed, uneven distribution of digital skills will compound the effects of social disadvantage. Digital skills are also essential to participate in learning, as technology can overcome barriers of geography, physical condition and finance, changing what, where, when and how people learn.

Our Policy Asks

Learning and Work Institute recognises the benefits of technology to widen participation in learning and the necessity for everyone to develop their digital skills.

We want:

  • Opportunities for everyone to develop the digital skills they need for future employment and to remain in employment.
  • To ensure that technology offers more learning for more people, especially those who could benefit most, including those who are most disadvantaged and excluded.
  • Support for people of all ages and backgrounds to use technology to fully participate in life, work and learning.

Digital skills for everyone

Our work increases opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop basic and advanced digital skills

  • Some people face complex barriers to learning. Our resources help develop their digital skills in various contexts, for example digital skills for older people (through the Digital Age programme), those with low levels of numeracy (through our award winning Maths Everywhere app) and digital skills in communities through our European-wide Dlit programme.
  • Family learning offers a vehicle to developed digital skills, for example our work in Family Robotics helped disadvantaged families to develop advanced programming and digital making skills. Our Digital Families programme demonstrated how digital toolsd can be used to increase adult and children's progression.

More learning for more people


  • Release the potential of learners' own technologies with our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) guidance
  • Overcome barriers to online learning for under - represented groups.
  • Our Implementing FELTAG resources informed policy makers and practitioners on the opportunities and challeges related to online and blended learning.
  • Learning and Work Institute's Citizens Curriculum uses contextualised resources to deliver ESOL, digital, civic, health and financial capabilities.

Influencing digital policy

Digital Learning Accross Europe

  • Our AE-Pro learning platform has used e-learning to share best practice in adult learning across Europe.
  • Our work on Open Educational Resources contributed to the OER UP! Training programme which supported learning providers across Europe with the development of open educational resources.

Digital Skills


Want to know more?

To find out more about any of the work mentioned on this page, or to join one of our networks, please contact:

Susan Easton, Head of Digital Learning


Twitter: @susaneaston