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Digital Divide and a £2 Billion Skills Gap

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19 September 2013

A Social Digital Research Symposium led by the LSE, Ofcom and Tinder Foundation and comprising academic institutions and charities is attempting to address digital exclusion in the UK.

Go ON UK says that around 16 million people in the UK aged 15 and over do not have basic online skills but 90 per cent of all jobs are set to require ICT literacy by 2015.

Dr Ellen Helsper at the LSE told ComputerworldUK. ‘We hope to have an impact with the government and regulators who are really trying to make sure that the population of the country is digitally skilled and capable of being engaged with the information society that we are moving towards.’

This dovetails nicely with a new survey undertaken for O2 shows that government and the education systems need to invest much more in digital education if we are to plug the forthcoming skills gap.

The report estimates that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017 and that if the UK can’t support that growth the skills gap in the digital marketing industry could end up costing the UK up to £2bn a year.

Ronan Dunne, chief executive of O2, spoke to the Telegraph on the survey, conducted by Development Economics, commenting: ‘Now more than ever before, digital offers the chance to drive sustained economic recovery, but this will only be realised if we become a nation of digitally confident businesses with a digitally literate workforce.

‘Businesses must proactively seek out opportunities to collaborate to maximise the digital growth opportunity and harness the potential of the next generation. As digital natives, young people possess valuable skills that will be the future fuel of our economy, but not enough is being done to harness them.’