We welcome the Government’s Digital Strategy released yesterday (13 June) but were disappointed it didn’t do more to address the issue of basic digital skills and fundamental digital inclusion.
Around one fifth of our population are still digitally disadvantaged, unable to do some of the most basic digital tasks needed for everyday life. As the cost-of-living bites, digital inclusion is at the heart of managing money, accessing vital benefits and services and being part of our society.
As noted in the strategy, libraries play an important part but they are not the whole solution. Research shows that those who are offline need to access digital skills support in different ways, at different times and with people they know and trust, not bootcamps or qualifications. Frontline organisations need help to build capacity and create models that can meaningfully support digital inclusion sustainably and for the long term.
The opportunity of digital must be made fairer for all. The Government’s proposal to use digital to spread prosperity and level up will simply leave behind those who are already excluded and deepen the divide even further.