People and processesDigital SkillsAdults to get digital skills through new qualifications

Adults to get digital skills through new qualifications

Making computing a statutory national curriculum subject and introducing a new Computer Science GCSE and A-Level will help to upgrade digital skills

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton has unveiled plans to boost digital skills for adults.

The initiative will focus on the one in five adults with no or low basic online skills. Free courses will be offered to thousands of people to help them learn how to thrive in an increasingly digital world.

The announcement follows a 12-week consultation and extensive work with a wide range of providers, employers, subject experts, Ofqual, awarding organisations and digital inclusion charities.

Essential digital skills

The new qualifications will be based on new, rigorous national standards and will be available for free to anyone over the age of 19 from 2020.

Research shows that online skills have become as important in getting a job and being part of society as English and Maths. An estimated 90% of all jobs in the next 20 years will require some form of digital knowledge, but one in five adults still lack these skills.

Gartner has predicted that by 2023, 50% of the roles that government CIOs will oversee do not exist in government IT today.

The new offer will comprise of:

  • A range of new essential digital skills qualifications, available from 2020, that will meet new conditions and requirements set by independent exams regulator Ofqual.
  • Digital Functional Skills qualifications, available from 2021, that will support progression into employment or further education and develop skills for everyday life.

Milton said: “I want people of all ages to have the skills and confidence they need for work and everyday life. Being online is more important than ever and yet one in five adults in the UK don’t have the basic digital skills that many of us take for granted. This is cutting many people off from so many opportunities – from accessing new jobs, further study and being able to stay in touch with friends and family.

“I am thrilled to launch the new ‘essential digital skills’ qualifications which will give adults the chance to develop a whole host of new skills to help get ahead in work, but also to improve their quality of life overall.”

Digital devices for everyday activities

The new national entitlement from 2020 will fully fund adults with no or low digital skills to undertake the new qualifications. They will be supported to use digital devices like tablets, smartphones and laptop computers and to perform everyday activities like how to navigate the internet, send an email and make online payments. They have been designed to help adults learn the essential skills, like completing online forms or using a tablet, that many people take for granted.

Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said: “The new entitlement will give everyone the opportunity to participate in an increasingly digital world and take advantage of digital technology, whether it is using a smartphone, learning how to send emails or shopping online.

“Implementation of the new entitlement will be complemented by the work of our Digital Skills Partnership to boost digital skills at all levels – from the essential digital skills that support inclusion, to the digital skills we increasingly need for work, right through to the advanced digital skills required for specialist roles.”

In an effort to tackle digital exclusion, last month to support residents lacking online skills. One in 10 residents of Surrey don’t have at least one main online skill. Around 133,000 people in Surrey can’t communicate, access content, complete a transaction, solve a problem or remain safe online, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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