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How to boost your digital skills

31 May 2021

A new report by FutureDotNow revealed that over 17 million people in the UK lack the essential digital skills for work and life. Keep reading to find out how you can boost your digital skills.

A new report by FutureDotNow revealed that over 17 million people in the UK lack the essential digital skills for work and life. The study helped shed a light on the ‘hidden middle’ who do not possess the advanced digital skills necessary to succeed in today’s global digital world. With more than 8 in 10 middle-skill jobs requiring digital skills, the government is now faced with the challenge of tackling the widening digital skills gap.

Among the proposed new initiatives is the expansion of the Digital Skills Partnership. In 2017, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport set up the Digital Skills Partnership (DSP), which aims to bring together businesses and charities of all sizes to improve digital skills in the UK. Since 2017, the government has established a total of 7 Local DSP regions who help to provide free digital skills training and support for people of all skill levels.

Natalie Gross, co-president of the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA), argues that the key to preparing students for the digital industry is early exposure inside and outside the classroom. In April this year, Microsoft launched their ‘Explore the digital future’ programme for UK schools that connects to the national curriculum and aims to prepare pupils for a digital future.

But what exactly are digital skills and what can you do to improve them?


What are digital skills?

UNESCO defines digital skills as those needed to “use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information”.

There are a huge variety of skills that can be considered as digital skills, from using a web browser to digital marketing and AI. In 2019, the Department of Education published their essential digital framework, outlining the five areas of digital skills:

  • Communicating – sending emails securely, using email attachments, and posting on social media.
  • Handling information and content – using search engines, understanding that not all online content is reliable, accessing content across devices and on the cloud.
  • Transacting – setting up accounts online, using different secure payment systems, filling in online forms.
  • Problem-solving – finding solutions to problems using FAQs/tutorials/chat and improving productivity.
  • Being safe and legal online – updating and keeping passwords secure, taking precautions against viruses and understanding the risks and threats involved in carrying out activities online.

 

How can I boost my digital skills?

In an age where technology is rapidly changing, learning digital skills can feel daunting, however there are a number of different organisations and platforms that can help you improve your skills and feel more confident with ways that you can help improve your digital skills and feel more confident online.

 

1) The Skills Toolkit

The Skills Toolkit is an online learning platform launched by the UK government. As well as offering a variety of digital skills-based courses, The Skills Toolkit offers other subjects such as maths, english, business and finance. You can choose between more general courses and specialised courses for more advanced learners.

2) FutureLearn

FutureLearn, founded in 2012, offers a wide variety of online courses from top universities in the UK and around the world. As well as more advanced computer science and AI courses, FutureLearn has also partnered with Accenture to create a series of free digital skills courses for beginners.

3) Google Digital Garage

Google offers a library of over 100 free online courses, with a large proportion relating to digital skills, such as “Intro to digital wellbeing”, and “How to increase productivity at work”.

4) The Open University

The Open University has over 50 years' experience providing flexible learning options. Aside from distance learning undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, they have around 1000 online free courses to choose from, including “Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world” and “Preparing for your digital life in the 21st Century” among other digital-related courses.


5) BT Skills for Tomorrow

Skills for Tomorrow is new online training programme designed to provide essential digital skills training for school children, families and businesses. The site offers a range of courses, from fun activities for children to advice for parents and business owners.

If you have any queries about learning digital skills, or think that you would benefit from one-to-one support, contact UK Study Centre.

 

 

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