Yesterday, Lloyds Bank launched their UK Consumer Digital Index 2018 alongside their Essential Digital Skills Framework, created in collaboration with Tech Partnership. It is encouraging to see that this year’s Index contains analysis of the positive role tech plays in supporting the everyday life of many. Similarly, techUK commends the Framework’s focus on ‘skills for life’ and ‘additional skills for work provides’, both of which are becomingly increasingly important as the UK economy digitises.
The Index is clear evidence of technology’s positive contributions to society and the dependence of many on the support they receive through digital services. Notably, 21.1 million people are less lonely because of digital services and one in three over 60-year olds are using digital services to improve their mental and physical health.
On skills, the Index provides yet more evidence of the need to equip the current and future workforce with the appropriate skills for tomorrow’s workplace. At present, 10% of the workforce do not have Lloyds’ defined the essential digital skills and on average these individuals are earning £13,000 less than workers with such skills.
Similarly, there is a clear need to address digital skills beyond London and the South East, with a disproportionate number of the population lacking essential digital skills located in the Wales, the North East and the North West. More must be done in these regions to promote digital uptake and techUK is working to support the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Skills Partnership, which seeks to encourage digital inclusion and improvements in digital skills across England.
What is most promising is that individuals are taking more autonomy and control over improving their digital skills, with 82% of those online being self-taught in digital skills. This is an encouraging indicator that individuals are understanding the need to constantly upskill and reskill as UK plc digitises.
There is clearly much work to be done to improve the UK’s digital skills but this year’s Index provided encouraging signals of the UK public’s attitudes towards digital inclusion, lifelong learning and tech’s rich contributions to improving the quality of life of many in society.