According to the Digital Poverty Alliance, the UK government must adequately identify and address digital poverty if it is to address the widening skills gap and promote economic development (DPA).
Per Elizabeth Anderson, COO of the DPA, 82% of occupations in the UK require digital skills, according to the charity’s research. According to the estimates, there will be five million digitally unskilled employees in the UK by 2030.
According to the organization, if digital poverty is not adequately handled at the institutional level, Britain would suffer economic consequences.
The digital skills gap has long been a persistent and developing issue in the UK labor markets. According to recent Tech Nation research, the ratio of digital skills-required job openings to people capable of filling those jobs might hinder the industry’s and the UK economy’s growth.
“At least 6% of the population, if not more, is permanently disconnected.” “When you look at those who haven’t used the internet in the previous three months, that number jumps to over three million,” – said Anderson.
Last year, there were over two million job openings in UK technology, yet industry estimates suggest that roughly 12 million individuals lack basic digital skills.
According to the DPA, the basis of the problem is a lack of digital instruction at the school level, as well as the government’s refusal to recognize digital access as a basic right.
The DPA’s data shows that low-income inner-city neighborhoods and low-income coastal towns suffer the most from restricted internet and digital access since the price barrier to entry is too high.
The government should view digital access as a right, not a luxury – said The DPA.
The government has made some steps to address the issue in terms of education. Former digital minister Chris Philp revealed the UK’s digital strategy this year at London Tech Week.
The approach mentioned the need of improving the quality of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in schools. However, the strategy was criticized for making imprecise ideas that lacked actual measures.
“There were a few broad-brush schooling notions. “However, nothing addressed the underlying basic need to combat exclusion in digital,” Anderson explained.
To strengthen digital skills education, the DPA recommends that schools offer students with access to devices and that digital skills be included in teacher training.
“You wouldn’t live in a house without running water,” Anderson commented. “Why do we presume, as more and more public and business services go online, that people can live without the internet?”
Initiatives have been launched by public and private partnerships to bridge the digital skills gap in the United Kingdom. The West Midlands Combined Authority, for example, has been hosting a series of digital skills bootcamps and has recently teamed with tech giant Microsoft to help with training and placing individuals in IT professions in the region.