30 people posed following a parliament digital skills discussion

In a time of unprecedented digital transformation, the United Kingdom finds itself at a pivotal juncture, grappling with the intricate challenges posed by digital skills and the digital divide.

This week’s Parliamentary Digital Skills Summit provided an important venue for discussion, bringing attention to these pressing issues and emphasising the imperative need for proactive measures, particularly with AI changing the nature of digital skills and services.

“In the absence of an up-to-date national digital inclusion strategy, we risk perpetuating cycles of inequality and exclusion,” warned Elizabeth Anderson, CEO of the Digital Poverty Alliance (DPA). “Investing in digital inclusion isn’t just about convenience – it’s a moral and economic imperative to ensure that everyone has the same chance to share in digital prosperity. To truly thrive in the digital era, we must empower all citizens to participate fully in the digital economy and society at large.”

The absence of a revised national digital inclusion strategy in the UK, since the last one in 2014, underscores the urgency of the situation – especially given the speed of technological advancement since the pandemic. It calls for a unified approach to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their background or circumstances, have access to the digital tools and skills crucial for success in the 21st century.

The summit served as a dynamic forum for robust discussions on enhancing infrastructure, providing affordable access to technology, and tailoring training programmes to meet the needs of underserved communities. Furthermore, it emphasised the necessity of a flexible strategy that remains responsive to the evolving needs of society, harnessing digital technologies for social good and fostering fruitful public-private partnerships.

Confronting the challenges of digital skills and the digital divide demands concerted action and unwavering commitment from all stakeholders. Governments, businesses, educational institutions, and civil society must collaborate synergistically to bridge the gap and ensure that no one is left behind in the digital age.

The initiatives undertaken by the DPA, as detailed in its National Delivery Plan, align with the leadership demonstrated at the Parliamentary Digital Skills Summit, symbolising a collective determination to tackle these dual challenges. Through the advocacy of inclusive policies, the introduction of innovative solutions, and the promotion of collaborative efforts, the Alliance exemplifies the commitment to shaping a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable digital future for all citizens of the United Kingdom.

The DPA’s six core missions:

  1. Increase awareness among government, politicians, industry, and the public about the need for strategic and sustainable action to end digital poverty.
  2. Ensure affordable connectivity and guarantee access to devices and connectivity for those in need.
  3. Improve standards of accessibility, safety and inclusiveness across online services.
  4. By 2030, significantly reduce the proportion of individuals without essential digital skills and ensure the sustainability, and expansion, of these skills in response to changing technologies and needs.
  5. Develop our understanding of digital poverty and enhance knowledge and information sharing through the creation of research sharing networks.
  6. Increase local capacity to provide joined-up digital inclusion support to individuals and communities.

Does your organisation believe in a world where everyone has equal access to the life changing benefits of digital? Do you believe that technology can be a powerful tool for positive change?