The UK government must properly acknowledge and tackle the issue of digital poverty if it is to be able to close the skills gap and help support economic growth, says the charity group Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA).
Elizabeth Anderson, COO of the DPA The DPA’s statistics show that 82 percent of jobs in UK require digital expertise. According to the data, there would be five million under-skilled digital people in the UK by 2030.
As per the organization, Britain could take a severe economic loss as a result from digital poverty, if this issue isn’t adequately addressed on an institution level.
The gap in digital skills is a long-standing and growing issue for UK’s labor markets. Recent research provided by Tech Nation showed the ratio between job openings that require digital skills and those who can fulfill those jobs can hinder growth in the sector and the wider UK economy.
There were over two million jobs available in UK technology last year However, figures from the industry show more than 12 million people lack the essential digital abilities.
For the DPA the cause of the issue is due to the low quality of digital education at the elementary level and the failure of the government to recognize digital access as a fundamental right.
It’s nearly three million if you examine those who haven’t been online for the past 3 months.” Anderson told Business Matters.
The DPA’s data show that areas with low incomes in the inner city and coastal communities with low incomes are the most when it comes to having limited internet and access to digital services because the cost to entry is too high.
The DPA stated that the government should view online access as an essential fundamental right and not as a luxury.
From a pedagogical perspective From a pedagogical perspective, the government has attempted to tackle the issue. Former minister for digital Chris Philp, speaking at London Tech Week this year, revealed the the UK’s digital strategy.
The plan emphasized the need to improve the quality of engineering, science, technology as well as maths (STEM) education in schools. However, the strategy was met with criticism for its vague ideas without concrete strategies.
“There were some broad ideas regarding education. However, there was nothing that could deal with the fundamental necessity of tackling digital inequality,” Anderson said.
The DPA’s recommendation to improve the education of digital skills is to make sure that schools offer students access to computers and incorporate digital skills into the teacher level of training.
Private and public collaborations have been conducting initiatives to fill the gap in digital skills in the UK. For instance the West Midlands Combined Authority has been conducting a series digital skills bootcamps. They also recently, it partnered with the tech giant Microsoft to support the training of people and to place them into tech jobs within the region.