£875 million needed to create a 100% digitally skilled nation by 2020: report


A national commitment to get everyone online by 2020 would cost an annual investment of £146 million over a 6-year period if spread across the private, public and voluntary sectors, according to a new report.

It’s the first estimate of the investment needed to create a 100% digitally skilled nation – where there are still 11 million people without the Basic Online Skills.

The report, titled ‘A Leading Digital Nation by 2020’,  uses information on the profile of the 11 million and current interventions to get people online, factoring in the barriers, challenges and costs to up-skill the hardest to reach groups which includes 2 million people of working age and 4 million retired citizens.

According to its findings:

  • 78% of UK adult population have the Basic Online Skills to use the internet regularly for themselves, leaving 11 million people who still can’t send and receive email, use a search engine, browse the internet and complete online forms
  • A new report commissioned by Tinder Foundation and Go ON UK, estimates that without increased investment 6.2 million people will remain without basic online skills in 2020
  • The report suggests an annual investment across private, public and voluntary sectors of £146 million over 6 years

Creating a 100% digitally skilled nation is a vision which has gained momentum since policy makers and business forecasters started counting the cost of digital exclusion in billions. In terms of lost revenue for UK PLC, potential savings for Government, and missed opportunities for citizens these include:

  • £108 million estimated annual savings for the NHS if just 1% of their face-to-face visits were converted to NHS Choices visits
  • £1.7 billion  – Government Digital Service estimate of potential savings per annum of digital by default public services
  • £560 potential saving per household if a family shops and pays bills online
  • £63 billion – Booz & Co report estimated economic benefit if UK led the world in digitisation

With countries like Norway already achieving internet use-age rates of 98%, the suggestion is that we adopt an accelerated approach to reap the benefits of a 100% digitally skilled nation by 2020. The report encourages government and partners in the private and voluntary sectors to act now to share the investment needed to ensure everyone in the UK benefits from what the web has to offer.

Graham Walker, CEO of Go ON UK said: “GO ON UK’s vision is to bring partners together from all sectors to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation. I welcome this report as a contribution to the debate on the investment required from all sectors to achieve our goal.  If by 2020, we leave 6.2 million, largely poor and older adults without basic online skills then we will have failed.”

“The report suggests that £146 million annual investment will ensure everyone in the UK has basic online skills by 2020.  The government alone spends more that £4 billion annually on adult skills and training. We are asking the government and organisations in all sectors to urgently review their current training and skills investments to ensure that the UK reaps the huge social and economic benefits of universal Internet use. “

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