Basic digital skills could add £1,000 to an annual salary

Even the lowest skilled jobs today require some level of "digital confidence:" a cleaner may be required to use an online system if only to clock-on or book holidays, while those not connected or unfamiliar with the internet will struggle even to apply for work.

Research by Go ON UK suggests a universal basic minimum in digital skills could add £63bn to the economy each year. On an individual level, basic online competency could add £1,064 to one's annual income, increasing to £3,568 for more advanced skills.

The Select Committee's report Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future laid out a number of recommendations for the state to make "clever" interventions in skills training: including a computer component in all teacher training, for example, or ensuring each school's governing body has someone from a 'digital background.' Neither require an overhaul of the curriculum or a huge amount of resources, but could raise the overall level of "digital confidence." On a vocational level, colleges too are "clunky," and "not nimble" enough to adapt to the fluid demands of employers.

'They should work more closely with employers', says Baroness Morgan of Huyton, who spent nine months heading the Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills, and be more flexible in offering specialised and relevant short courses. However, "the system at the moment mitigates against that."

More responsibility must also lie with the individual. "We have to change the conversation," so that adults understand they may need to be retraining throughout their life, as the technical requirements of jobs change. Equally the state must understand it has to ensure that up-to-date training is readily available.

"It's a sort of nimbleness," she adds. "We have to keep re-educating people, and you can no longer take the view that if you do this course you're going to be fine for life."

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