The UK is facing a digital skills crisis. Over 17m workers lack the essential digital skills needed for their jobs, contributing to a gap that costs the UK economy an estimated £63bn annually in lost GDP. Meanwhile, every day, our personal lives demand we become more tech-savvy to manage them. Banking, shopping and vital services like Government benefits and GP appointments are increasingly only accessible online, yet 11.9m people lack the essential digital skills to access the internet, communicate and solve problems online.
Even if you do have the basic skills you need for today, the digital world is changing so fast – and constantly – that we need to be actively upskilling to keep pace. Learning no longer ends with formal education, and digital skills will be the crucial building blocks we all need to thrive within the rapidly innovating world.
This isn’t new news. Digital skills training has long been a focus for Government and organisations as the ‘crisis’ looms large, yet for all the hundreds of programmes and initiatives running around the UK today the skills problem remains. Training options can be bewildering and the choice overwhelming; we need to help people to identify the skills they need to match their ambitions and careers. More importantly, we need to find a new way to motivate people to take up skills training.
Rising to this challenge is future.now, a new coalition of leading companies and civil society groups, working in collaboration with Government and brought together by Lord Mayor Peter Estlin. Nominet is proud to be a founding partner and incubator host of this great initiative and we are keen to get down to the task of preparing the nation for the digital demands of tomorrow.
All organisations involved have pledged to inspire and motivate their own staff to recognise digital skills training as something necessary on a regular basis, changing some of the existing misconceptions and shifting the culture towards one of continuous learning.
At Nominet, digital skills training has long formed an important part of our public benefit work; we already run digital skills training externally to help young people. Now we must bring an additional focus to ensure the whole Nominet family is on a path of ongoing digital development. That includes considering the people working for us in a non-digital capacity, such as on-site cleaners, caterers or security guards. Where there are gaps, we have committed to help to equip them with the digital skills they need to keep themselves competitive within a ‘digitalising’ jobs market.
While digital skills training matters for the country and the economy, it also matters for our own employability and sustainability in the workplace. Digital skills ensure we can find a job and be good at it, not to mention allow us to engage with the digital world in which we live and reap the benefits available. Importantly, these skills will also help us safeguard our privacy and security when online. We can no longer afford to take our digital abilities for granted, and I hope future.now will start the mindset change required to ensure we all keep pace with the changing world around us.
Find out more about future.now on their website.