Digital Learning Day, celebrated each year on the last Thursday in February, shines a spotlight on the advancement of technology and how it has enhanced teaching, however, research shows that there are still one in five Brits who lack the digital basics, severely limiting their online access.
A report by Lloyds Bank revealed that there are still over 10 million people in the UK who lack basic digital skills, which will become a greater barrier for job seekers with the consensus that 90 per cent of all jobs will be expected to require digital skills over the next two decades.
The Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA), a charity initiative seeking to end digital poverty in the UK, is playing a central role in tackling this challenge, seeking to end digital poverty by 2030 through landmark whitepapers such as their Evidence Review, which outlines the current state of digital poverty in the UK, as well as initiatives such as Tech4Teachers and Tech4Schools which provide funding and electronic devices to teachers to enable them to deliver a high standard of education.
Elizabeth Anderson, Chief Operating Officer of the Digital Poverty Alliance, said: “It is important to celebrate the advancements in both technology and teaching, but it is also important to highlight the significant shortcomings that still exist in this area. Digital exclusion consists of digital skills, access to digital devices, and access to broadband connectivity, all of which go hand in hand in teaching people how to use tech.”
“Technology is a huge part of the education sector – we saw during the pandemic that it made remote learning possible for some, but we also saw a significant number of students unable to keep up due to a lack of skills, device access or broadband.”
DPA research has highlighted that 26 per cent of young people do not have access to a laptop or similar device, an issue which saw one in five children unable to learn effectively at home during the pandemic.
“At any age, digital skills are becoming increasingly essential, and benefit teachers and students right the way through to tasks such as paying rent and bills. If people are without the basic skills to get by then they begin getting phased out of the centre of society, placed at a disadvantage in their daily lives. This issue is exacerbated by the growing gap that develops once people go offline, with their skills failing to develop at the same rate as evolving technology. Schools, businesses and Government alike all need to make a conscious effort to promote and support accessibility to fundamental areas including skills, devices and connectivity” Anderson continued.
To make matters worse, 53 per cent of those who are already offline can’t afford an average monthly broadband bill, worsened by the cost-of-living crisis.