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Go ON UK Say 16 Million People Need Basic Internet Skills to Help Boost GDP

Thursday, November 8th, 2012 (2:01 am) - Score 390

Charity Go ON UK (RaceOnline 2012) has estimated that 16 million people in the UK still don’t have the basic online skills needed to benefit fully from the internet. The economy (GDP) could, it claims, be £63 billion better off if the nation reversed this. The solution? A new Digital Skills Charter.

The group uses a new study from Booz & Company to help support its case, which defines Basic Online Skills as the ability to communicate, find things and share personal information online. For example, related skills include the ability to use a search engine, sending and receiving emails, completing online applications and searching and accessing information online.

Booz & Company similarly estimate that annual total turnover of UK small and medium sized businesses could be boosted by £18.8 billion if their staff all had the necessary skills. At present just 33% of SMEs are said to have a digital presence and only 14% sell their products and services online.

Martha Lane Fox, the UK Digital Champion, said:

We read every day of the huge challenges that the UK faces both economically and socially. The findings of this report and the commitments from the founder partners of Go ON UK are the first step in unlocking the potential of the country by putting the Internet at the heart of the solution. We need to make the country fit for purpose through the next decade and ensure everyone and every organisation has basic digital literacy.”

The rectify this situation Go On UK has worked with its eight founding partners – Age UK, BBC, Big Lottery Fund (BIG), EE, E.ON, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk – to unite behind a new Digital Skills Charter. Its first objective will be address digital skills in the workplace, where an estimated 4.5 million people currently lack the necessary knowledge.

As a result Go ON UK’s partners will be rolling out their charter commitments by making available Basic Online Skills development in their organisations. It’s hoped that UK plc and the Government will then follow suit.

An August 2012 report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) similarly found that a total of 42.52 million UK adults have gone online (84% of the population), which meant that the number of adults who have never used the internet had declined since Q1 by -4% to 7.82 million. Many of those made a conscious choice not to use the internet.

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