For the last three years Lloyds Bank have created a Consumer Digital Index looking at how the people of the UK use digital services. It is an interesting snapshot of how many people access services online and more importantly how many do not.
The results show a mixed picture, whilst there are more people online than ever before there is still a very long way to go. Lloyds calculate that 6.1 million people are Digitally Disengaged meaning they have little or no digital behaviours. Whilst this number has dropped by 1.5 million over the previous year this doesn’t tell the whole story. More and more services are moving to digital, for instance new benefit claims are done online, so people without digital skills are getting more and more marginalised.
The Digitally Disadvantaged are a group that lack the essential skills needed for day-to-day life in the UK. There are 11.2 million people in this category, a staggering amount considering the statement that they need these skills. There are many factors for this, it is not just the elderly that struggle it is estimated that almost half of these people are under 60 years old. These are mostly from low-income households, the people that would be rewarded more by the ability to lower their bills online. Again people with disabilities are being excluded, whilst there is a lot of assistive technology out there it is expensive and only 11% of people with a disability currently use it. This is connected to low-income households, as people with disabilities are less likely to be in work and earning.
In the workforce it is estimated that 53% of employees lack the digital skills they need for work and two thirds of the UK workforce do not receive skills support from their workplaces. With the gig economy there is little or no incentive for employers to train their staff, however this harms the workforce as a whole, as people find it hard to move jobs when they lack the digital skills needed.
Authors Note: The Lloyds Consumer Digital Index is a great snapshot of digital skills in the UK, however they have created this from contacting banking customers. I suspect that the real numbers of people without digital skills is higher than they report, because people who use cash and basic post office accounts are unlikely to have digital skills.