Everyone over the age of 19 could soon be entitled to free ‘digital skills’ courses from the government in a bid to improve the nation’s computer literacy.
Apprenticeship and skills minister Anne Milton MP has announced that all adults in the UK over the age of 19 will be entitled to free ‘digital skills’ lessons from 2020.
The courses will be set against “rigorous national standards” and have been designed to help adults learn essential digital skills, such as sending emails, completing online forms or using a tablet.
Nine in 10 jobs will become dependent on such skills in the next 20 years according to research from Lloyds Bank. However, one in five adults still lack the skills necessary.
Currently, 4.3 million people in the UK currently have no basic digital skills whatsoever, according to Lloyds.
Ms Milton says: “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.”
The range of ‘essential digital skills’ qualifications will be available from 2020 and will meet requirements set by independent exams regulator Ofqual.
Margot James MP, minister for digital and the creative Industries, adds: “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.”
The government says the courses will be fully funded for adults with no or low digital skills.
The courses will help people learn to use laptops, smart phones and tablets to perform everyday activities such as using the internet, sending emails and making online payments.
The Department for Education has told Moneywise that education providers who are funded through the Adult Education Budget by the Education & Skills Funding Agency and/or mayoral combined authorities and the Greater London Authority will deliver the new qualifications.
Providers will determine how best to deliver the new qualifications, whether in the classroom, online or a blended approach.