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Finally – it’s happened. Every Saturday for the last few years,  I have sat watching Twitter and checking news networks for any hint of an announcement about basic digital skills and I’ve been rewarded.

Yes, while you were off ordering babyccinos, scoffing brunch and and worrying about great British bake off, I’ve been waiting on the edge of my sofa for a sign the  government has registered this mammoth issue for the U.K.

Joking aside, I was delighted to see when Digital Minister Matt Hancock tweeted last Saturday that there is going to be free basic digital skills training for anyone who needs it. In fact he stated that they want the Uk to be one of the “most digitally skilled nations”. This is fabulous – I’ve been one of many voices banging on about this for years – and specifically the opportunity to lead the world. In fact I built my whole Dimbleby lecture around exactly that notion in April 2015. 

The full text of what is being proposed is here :

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-plans-to-make-the-uk-one-of-the-most-digitally-skilled-nations

There is a great deal of detail to be worked out but I am heartened to see that the budget seems to have been allocated.

I urge those responsible for making this happen to be bold in ambition

There are still  :

23% people, 23% SMEs and 58% all charities who lack the five Basic Digital Skills.

This affects economic growth, productivity and social mobility.

Upskilling the population is an investment in the UK’s future economic prosperity.

BDS improve small businesses’ profitability, efficiency, productivity, employee engagement and customer satisfaction

UK slipping amongst EU nations according to EC’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI):

In category “lagging ahead” (perform well, but their development is now very slow and, as such, they are lagging in comparison to the progress of the EU as a whole)

Given its very ubiquity, not having access to digital technology and the internet today has a disproportionately greater impact than at any other time

Most digitally mature organisations one-third more likely to have i

For SMEs – 84% communicate online but only  53% have a website  and only 13% use e-commerce.

75% of businesses invest no money at all in digital skills. 

At the same time, business told us at Go On uk and now at Doteveryone that 85% of hard-to-fill positions are difficult to recruit to because of a lack of specialist technical skills.

One in ten respondents to the 2015 Everline Small Business Tracker said they wanted to expand online but a lack of skills was holding them back.

16% small business had vacancies because no candidates had the required skills. Equates to around 520,000 vacancies. If the correct skills were available to fill these vacancies, the total economy could be boosted by almost £18.2bn.

Having the highest level of skills in problem solving using ICT increases chances of participation in the labour force by six percentage points, compared with adults who have the lowest levels of these skills.

In 2013, a report by O2 estimated that the UK would need 745,000 additional workers with digital skills to meet rising demand from employers and fuel the UK economy up to 2017.

Loss of economic output caused by these unfilled job vacancies estimated at between £1.6 billion and £2.4 billion per year by 2017 – the same report said that only 20% of the technology jobs required by 2017 were suited to the current generation of 16-25 year olds, our so-called “digital natives”.

90% of all new jobs require digital skills. 

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of employers say they would not even interview a candidate who does not possess basic computer skills.

The good news is that there are a bunch of organisations who know how to train people well. Doteveryone has been working in Croydon and Lewisham helping residents learn and the results are sometimes surprising but are useful. We want to share what we have learnt and others will too.

So, thank you Matt, DCMS and everyone making this happen,  you made my Saturday much more sunny.

Please don’t screw it up.

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