Digital skills training in the community boosts learners’ confidence, independence and optimism

Digital Innovators has successfully delivered digital skills training in the community, reaching members of society who are among the most digitally-excluded in the region.

Thanks to funding from the Good Things Foundation, Digital Innovators West Midlands Community Interest Company has up-skilled 62 learners at the Free @ Last Community Centre in Nechells, Birmingham.

Why are digital skills important?

According to the Good Things Foundation’s annual Digital Nation infographic for 2022:

  • 10 million people in the UK lack the most basic digital skills.
  • 36% of workers lack the essential digital skills needed for work.
  • Limited digital users are 4 x more likely to be from a low-income household than extensive digital users.
  • Manual workers with high or very high digital engagement earn £421 more a month than less digitally engaged peers.

These figures demonstrate the extent of digital exclusion in the UK, and the impact this has on socio-economic progress for people across the nation.

However, this infographic also acknowledges that investment in digital skills creates wider benefit for the economy, with £1.4bn invested in basic digital skills projected to generate returns of £12.2bn Net Present Value over next 10 years.

Why are people digitally-excluded?

There are many reasons which explain why someone may not possess basic digital skills and are not an active user of digital devices.

Among the most common reasons given are: the expense, the over-complicated terminology and processes, and concerns around online safety.

Discovered during delivery of this programme, however, was the overarching barrier of a lack in confidence.

What was the impact of this project?

With the funding provided by the Good Things Foundation, a provision of digital devices and data from the National Databank to distribute to learners, Digital Innovators has been able to provide essential digital skills training to members of the community who were experiencing the negative impacts of digital exclusion.

This training covered everything from setting up a device, accessing the internet, how to stay safe online and more with the hopes of addressing the barriers preventing people becoming digitally-competent.

According to impact surveys completed by participants:

  • 90% feel their digital skills are better.
  • 85% feel more able to stay safe online.
  • 88% feel generally more confident and more independent.

Participants also provided more specific feedback on how they have benefitted from working with the DI Team:

  •  “I used a computer for the first time and my skills have gotten better.”
  • “The team are very friendly and approachable making learning easier.”
  • “I used the internet to gain lots of knowledge and to help against isolation.”
  • “I feel more confident on the computer and I don’t need to ask my daughters to help me as much.”

What’s next?

Following the success of this project, Digital Innovators West Midlands Community Interest Company is actively exploring an extension of digital skills training in the community to complement its sister company’s delivery of the Digital Innovators Skills Programme.

We have confirmed the extension of this specific programme with CEO of Free @ Last, John Street, and will continue to engage with families and up-skill the community in the Nechells area.

We are also in talks with other community groups who have approached us to work together following the success and progress made during this project.

Chris Kennedy, Junior Project Manager at Digital Innovators, was part of the delivery team and shared his thoughts on the project:

Delivering the digital skills training at Free @ Last was a blast. Getting to know the issues and problems of the Free @ Last community members was really insightful.

“Attendees continuously told us that our course helped them a lot with becoming more self-sufficient when working online, and that they were excited to show what they were learning to their children and relatives.

“I’m really excited to develop and continue this project further.”

Digital Innovators is passionate about breaking down the barriers which prevent people from unlocking their potential.

Organisations interested in collaborating to tackle digital exclusion should get in touch here.

Want more from the DI Team?

Check out our latest blogs below, or keep up with the behind-the-scenes action of the DI Skills Programme by following us on social media or subscribing to our mailing list.

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