Did you know that 17 million people nationwide – around half of the UK workforce – lack the essential digital skills they need to work and live? Many people lack the basic digital literacy they need to help them stay safe online, find jobs, or demonstrate many of the skills needed in the workplace.
As the Director of Learning for Work Operations at NCFE, I see with my own eyes how transformative it can be to empower people to learn digital skills. As such, I was pleased to be invited to speak at a panel discussion at this week’s EdTech Summit in Birmingham, on the topic of ‘Improving digital literacy to drive digital transformation “. I explained in detail how equipping people with these vital skills will drive digital and societal advancement.
The urgent need to improve essential digital skills
Having fundamental digital skills has never been more important for people. The impact of digital advancement on our lives continues to grow day by day, and important areas of our lives – from working remotely to making appointments with the general practitioner, to general addiction to technology and applications to keep in touch – it all depends on we have the digital knowledge to operate in society.
Having digital literacy skills allows individuals not only to access essential information, but also to apply for jobs and participate in additional training, such as retraining or upgrading opportunities.
But because of the speed at which technological advancements are being made, the World Economic Forum reports that 44% of the skills employees need to perform their roles will have changed by 2025. So how do you tackle this landscape challenge? rapidly evolving and lack of digital literacy skills, to ensure that millions of workers are not left behind?
Improve the skills of all educational staff
The Essential Digital Skills Qualifications (EDSQ) are a great place to start. Designed to fill digital knowledge gaps and provide life-saving skills, EDSQs can help individuals become confident in online communication and transactions, creating and editing, using devices, and managing business. information responsibly.
At NCFE, we champion the power of essential digital skills and are uniquely positioned to support those without the right digital skills. We offer Level 1 and Entry Level 3 certifications that are funded and mapped to National Standards for Basic Digital Literacy. Our upcoming webinar also focuses on this topic, detailing how essential digital skills can help learners at all stages of life advance in both learning and employment.
In the coming years, we will also seek to support the government’s plans to reform the current ICT qualifications from functional skills into a new digital functional skills qualification, which is scheduled to go live in 2023. As reported by the government, these qualifications will be imperative. to âbuild their recognition and credibility in the labor marketâ when it comes to the importance of accessing and possessing these skills.
Breaking down the digital divide
The deeper you delve into the digital divide, the more revealing the problem becomes; more than 4.3 million people have no basic digital skills, 28% of people aged 60 and over are offline, and registered people with disabilities are four times more likely to be offline. Digital training is a challenge spanning all ages and backgrounds, so solutions must be inclusive and accessible; keeping in mind that people need access to the internet and technology before we can start training them.
Additionally, we need to keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for another, so ensuring that digital training is suitable for a particular audience is essential. Take my own grandmother, for example: she decided to read a book on how to use the computer before even considering starting her computer!
Working together to provide solutions
There are many opportunities for collaborative work among stakeholders at all levels to strengthen digital literacy among all education staff and drive transformation. At NCFE, we’ve experienced the power of partnership in these areas, working with centers that use our skills assessment tools and solutions, and tailoring our products to ensure they meet the needs of our providers.
Thinking outside the box when it comes to providing training is also important, as there are so many wonderful and innovative ways to retrain and develop adults. Distance learning offers us a world of possibilities, helping us as educators to meet people wherever they are, in terms of both their geography and their current skills.
Discussions we had with our panel at the EdTech Summit focused on many of the above sentiments regarding training, opportunities and inclusiveness. I would like to thank Steven Hope, CEO of C-Learning and Chairman of the Governors of Elements Elementary School, for chairing yesterday’s roundtable, as well as the interesting and engaging contributions from my colleagues, Dr Ann Thanaraj ( Assistant to the Academic Registrar at Teesside University), Sarah Knight (Head of Teaching and Learning Transformation at Jisc) and Yusuf Ibrahim (Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning Excellence in Cardiff and Vale College).
This is a critical time to have conversations about digital literacy and how we can work together to improve and expand access to these skills. I echo the EdTech Summit’s call to bridge the gap between education and technology as a way to improve digital literacy, and look forward to continuing to see experts and organizations in the industry working together to seek innovative solutions.
By Dan Howard, Director of Work Learning Operations at NCFE
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