Digital Skills – the issues at stake

The digital skills gap
The digital skills gap

The lack of digital skills in the UK has been a cause for debate in recent years, with many studies undertaken to try and measure the extent of the problem. As the business world becomes more digitally orientated, it becomes essential to use technology simply to interact at the most basic level.

According to a report from Ipsos MORI commissioned by Go ON UK, 77 per cent of the UK adult population have basic digital skills, which leaves 23 per cent, or an estimated 12.6 million people in the UK who do not have these skills. In previous research Go ON UK identified the five basic digital skill areas as managing information, problem solving, communicating, creating and transacting. This means that basic digital skills can be as simple as accessing the internet or making an online payment.

Digital capability levels differ drastically by age group, but also by geography across the UK. The areas registering the highest levels of digital skills are Greater London (84 per cent), Scotland (81 per cent), the South East and the South West (both 81 per cent). However, in Wales where the access to the internet is most lacking, basic digital skills levels are only at 62 per cent.

The level of basic digital capability drops off significantly among those aged 45 and older. While 93 per cent of 15-24 year olds possess basic skills, only 82 per cent of 45-54 year olds can boast the same, with this figure dropping to a worrying 43 per cent for those aged 65 and up. However, there is some variation in these figures across the five basic digital skill areas – in the 65+ age group, 66 per cent claim they can manage digital information (ie access the internet), yet only 48 per cent claim to have digital problem-solving skills.