Celebrating the ‘one in a million’

Today we’re holding a fantastic celebration as we’re on the cusp of having supported one million people (which is a pretty big number) to gain basic internet skills since April 2010.

Helping this many people to learn basic internet skills in just three years was an ambitious target to set ourselves, and it meant scaling up delivering and engaging hundreds of thousands more people, which was a pretty big ask. I’m delighted that, nine months ahead of schedule, we are just about to hit this target.

Of course Online Centres Foundation and all of our partners played a big role in reaching these one million people, but I want to express my admiration and thanks for the thousands of local community organisations and public libraries that make up the UK online centre network, and the staff and volunteers who work in them, who one by one helped one million people to use the internet. Thank you.

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a stats nerd so I wanted to give you a bit more detail about the one million people that we’ve supported.

  • 99% of them rated the service they got both from us (online) and more importantly from their local centres as excellent or good
  • 88% of the learners feel more confident overall (not just in their internet use) and 79% think that they are now more independent since learning more about the internet
  • 38% of this 1 million people supported had no qualifications, and 79% of them are socially disadvantaged.

These stats go to show that we’ve supported many people who aren’t reached by other kinds of informal learning. And also that those we help really like both their experience and the world that has opened up to them since gaining new skills, which is pretty important.

However (and there is always a however!), in today’s world it’s not good enough just to make people’s lives better. We also need to think about the value for money that we provide – and how we can prove this to the people who fund us in government. And so we’ve been calculating the impact we, and our one million learners, have had on the economy. 8% of these one million people have gone on to get a job due to the help they got in a UK online centre. This might not sound like a huge number, but when you remember that it’s 8% of 1 million people, that’s 80,000 people now in work and using their digital skills.

On top of this, by helping so many people to gain the skills they need, we’ve also been able to help with the roll-out of digital Government services – and here we’ve got some very good news to report. For the three year investment of £30m the Government awarded us in 2010 to support these one million people, they’ve already reaped a saving of £185m due to these digital citizens choosing that instead of contacting government face-to-face or over the phone they’ll do it online instead. And now they’ve started, these on million people will keep providing the Government with a £157m saving every year, year on year, from now on.

There are three magic ingredients to how we made this happen: Firstly, our national organisation – Online Centres Foundation – has demonstrated that we can deliver a large scale ambition. We said we could scale up delivery, and we did. Secondly, we’ve achieved our ambition by using technology for everything we do, including to deliver consistent systems and excellent online learning And, thirdly, and most importantly, we do it with thousands of local, or even hyperlocal, partners working in the communities they know and love.

One million people is easy to say, and it’s easy to forget that this short phrase is made up of one million wonderful individuals who were willing to learn something new. To recognise their achievements, we’ve put together a short film to celebrate each and every one of them, who are all “one in a million”

So, thank you to all our national partners, to Martha Lane Fox for all her help, to all of the trusted and hard working staff and volunteers and the thousands of local partners, and to all of our learners for being on this journey with us.

There are still 20 million people in the UK who can’t use the internet to do simple tasks and so there is still a lot to do. We will continue to support all our centres throughout the country to continue what they’re doing, in helping people in their communities to gain basic internet skills. Here’s to the next million!

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