Seven-step guide launched to help bridge digital skills gap


Carnegie UK Trust

The Carnegie UK Trust launched on 13th March a seven-step guide aimed at local authorities, landlords and other public and voluntary sector organisations, providing an easy-to-use toolkit for them to help get people online.

It comes as the Trust highlights that approximately one fifth of households still don’t have access to basic internet services, with many of the poorest households the most likely to miss out.

Published as part of the Trust’s latest report Making Digital Real, developed in partnership with Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the new guide demonstrates that a one-size fits all approach won’t help bridge the digital skills gap and that different ideas and models must be considered.

It encourages leadership, involving people and communities, making any approach personal to the specific audience group and interventions that address the multiple barriers that prevent people from going online, such as access to equipment, connection costs, and the fears that people might have about technology.

Commenting on the guide Graham Walker, CEO Go ON UK, said: “We know from lessons learned that working in partnership on a local level is key to bridging the digital skills gap in the UK. The unprecedented results of the 2011 Go ON Liverpool campaign which saw a 55% reduction in offline adults in the city in an 18-month period has formed a blueprint for the Go ON UK regional pathfinder which started in the North East at the end of last year.

The Carnegie UK Trust’s report reinforces the message that everyone has their role to play if we are to achieve our ambitious goal of making the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.

The report showcases six different successful approaches that have been taken to encourage people online in Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, Sunderland, Wiltshire and Fife. These include:

• Training volunteer Digital Champions to help share skills and knowledge

• Making affordable broadband available in socially rented homes

• The use of a bus, kitted out with the latest technology to take digital to communities and demonstrate how it can be used

Douglas White, Head of Policy, Carnegie UK Trust, said: "We know that access to the internet can help transform people’s lives; it can help people to access public services more easily, achieve higher levels of educational attainment and improve employment prospects, which in turn can help provide a boost to local economies. Despite this, a fifth of the UK population remain offline.

“The new guide provides an easy-to-follow reference guide for local authorities and business organisations to consider when undertaking activities to help boost digital inclusion in their region. Technology really has helped transform the way we live our lives, it’s therefore essential that the country’s final fifth are not forgotten about.”

Sue Jennings, the Development Manager and digital inclusion lead for Leeds Federated Community, one of the case studies outlined in the report, said: “With so many vital services moving online, having the means and ability to effectively use the internet is of vital importance for both our economic and social wellbeing. The HUGO project aims to reach those most at risk of digital exclusion in Leeds to ensure that people have the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the most of the opportunities provided by the internet.”

The Making Digital Real report comes following research carried out by the Trust last year around digital take-up in Glasgow, the city with one of the lowest levels of internet access in the UK. It found that two of the key causes were because citizens had concerns about technology and that different methods of engagement were required to get people interested in learning about being online.

The report can be downloaded

About Carnegie UK Trust

The Carnegie UK Trust was established in 1913 by Scots-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It seeks to improve the lives and wellbeing of people throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland through influencing public policy and demonstrating innovative practice.

To change minds, the Policy Team seeks to develop objective, evidence-based policy to improve lives. The Trust’s work is focused on a set of three themes: enterprise and society, knowledge and culture and people and place.

To change lives, the Trust’s Practice work takes forward the initiatives generated by policy and research, either the Trust’s own research or that developed by others, and developing them into practical pilot projects to be undertaken in partnership with other organisations interested in working in the same areas.

For information on these and other specific projects, go to our

About Broadband Delivery UK

BDUK is responsible for managing the Rural Broadband Programme, whereas local authorities and the devolved administrations are responsible for individual projects, as set out in BDUK’s delivery model. Our ambition through the current programme is to provide superfast broadband to at least 90% of premises in the UK and to provide universal access to standard broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps.

This guidance covers plans to continue to improve the UK’s broadband network, with particular emphasis on making high-speed broadband available in rural communities. For more information on broadband in the UK, read our broadband policy.

To help local authorities enter into delivery contracts with suppliers, BDUK has put in place a framework delivery contract. Local authorities can run mini-competitions from the framework to select a specific supplier to deliver broadband services for a local project. The Superfast Extension Programme will seek to further extend coverage to 95% of the UK.

About Go ON UK

Go ON UK is a cross-sector charity which was established in 2012 to encourage and support people, business and charities to enjoy the benefits of being online. Go ON UK has nine chief executives around its boardroom table – Age UK, Argos, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk. Together, Go ON UK’s vision is to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.

Go ON Liverpool was a national and local cross-sector partnership campaign. In June 2011, 29% of adults (104,000 people) in Liverpool had never been online, compared with 17% nationally. In 18 months, the Go ON UK Liverpool campaign led to a 55% reduction in adults in the city who had never gone online, and Liverpool had 43,000 new internet users (ONS Household Survey). This compared to a 13% drop nationally. The campaign had political, business and community support: all 90 local councillors backed it, 80 local partners supported it, each promoting a specific, targeted benefit message appropriate and meaningful to the local people and businesses they reached. On the ground 1,500 digital champions were recruited to deliver the message and provide training.

Go ON North East is working with people and partners to kickstart its regional digital skills roll out in the North East of England from 1st October. This is the first regional pathfinder being rolled out by Go ON UK and partners to help increase the Basic Online Skills of individuals, SMEs and charities.

The Pathfinder will provide a platform for a sustaina
ble digital skills programme in the North East and a replicable model for other UK regions to use to improve their digital skills.

Go ON Digital Skills Charter is a set of common beliefs agreed by Go ON UK partners:

• Everyone in the UK should have the Basic Online Skills to enjoy the full benefits of the web.

• Communities that don’t yet have the skills to fully enjoy the benefits of the internet should not be left behind.

• Everyone deserves world-class digital services that meet their needs and are useable by all.

• And that every organisation – in the private, public and voluntary sector – has a role to play in building our nation’s digital capability.

Basic Online Skills are the basic skills needed to enjoy a wide range of online benefits, including being able to transact online safely. Go ON UK has defined the categories of skill and the activities people need to be able to complete at a basic level which include the ability to send and receive email, use a search engine, browse the internet and complete online forms.

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