15.2 million people still aren’t benefiting from the internet

How much and how often you use the internet is a useful insight into who is digitally excluded. This gives us a way of assessing how the internet is impacting people’s lives – so how they are applying their basic digital skills to their lives or not.

Today, we’ve launched new research that for the first time breaks down the demographics of people who are not getting full benefit from the internet – either because they’re complete non users, or that they’re using the internet in a limited way – be it only using one site or a couple of apps, or going online less than once a week.

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The infographic accompanying our report.

The demographics of these people don’t really come as any surprise – 90% of non users are likely to be disadvantaged – which takes into account poor health and disability, social class and those who left school at 16 or under.  48% of non users and 47% of limited users have a long standing health issue or disability,  50% of non users are in social class DE, and 38% of limited users.

I’m thrilled that this new analysis is helping to build a fuller picture of what it means to be digitally excluded. We know basic digital skills is a big issue (18% of people say they aren’t online as they don’t have the skills), but it’s not the only measure of whether people are digitally excluded. Looking at usage helps us to show that digital exclusion is a much more complex issue.

For people to thrive in today’s increasingly digital world, using the internet on a regular basis and using the breadth of what’s on offer is vital. For most people, this means at least every day, if not several times a day. This might be to keep an eye on your bank balance, check on the price of your utilities, or to find work. Most people in work are using the internet on a daily basis. If people aren’t using the internet weekly, they’re likely to be excluded in a range of ways – including having less money available, fewer opportunities to find work, and less access to information that might make their lives better – such as health information, information to help their children with their homework, and more. So the way people are using the internet – how much and how often – is vital to understand whether they’re really getting the benefit they could be.


My presentation from the National Digital Conference 2017.

This analysis opens up lots of new questions and areas of work we’re keen to investigate – and understanding why people are non or limited users, and how we can better support them to thrive is going to be key.

Although we already support non and limited users through our work, and through the Online Centres Network, this new analysis will help further inform how we support these groups. It will help us to work with government and corporate partners to understand issues of digital exclusion and how together we can support it. We’re delighted BT have supported us to carry out this research, and we enjoyed working with Professor Simeon Yates to get the analysis right. We’re hoping to continue working with BT to take this further, to empower more people to have better lives and realise the opportunities the big wide web has to offer. We’re keen to hear from anyone else who wants to get involved.

Moving In; Moving More

We’re a very active bunch here at Good Things Foundation. We’re an organisation made up of walkers, runners, cyclists, climbers and more, so when we heard about the Workplace Challenge as part of the Move More Sheffield campaign, we knew it was something that we had to take part in.

Move More is an initiative which aims to make people more active and in Sheffield, through June, it pits individuals, teams and organisations against each other to see who is the most active out of the whole city.

At the moment Good Things Foundation has racked up over 27,000 minutes between 30 of us, and, thanks to my new walking to work lifestyle, I’m enjoying being in the top three of my team’s leaderboard. Not sure it will last…

We’ve got some office sessions planned with Seven Hills Fitness as part of the initiative too. Last week, some of the team enjoyed a boxercise session and for the next three weeks we’ve got a crazy core session, a pilates session and a yoga session planned, which we’re really looking forward to. Well some of the team are!

Boxercise

Fitness in progress! Our team boxing it out at the boxercise class.

 

New recruits move in

It isn’t just our new – and sometimes competitive – exercise regime that’s happening in the Good Things Foundation office right now. We’ve also got some new faces who’ve moved into the team:

  • Tim Brazier is our Senior Service Designer, joining our new Design and Innovation team
  • Pete Nuckley is our Service Delivery Manager, also joining our Design and Innovation team
  • Jonathan Bradwell is our Network Communications Specialist, joining our Network team
  • Zoe Howard is our Digital Inclusion Manager, joining the Digital Inclusion team
  • Charlotte Self is our Social Inclusion Manager, joining the Social Inclusion team.

I’d like to extend a very warm welcome to all of these new people and I look forward to seeing their exciting ideas coming to life as part of the Good Things Foundation family.

Fuller Lives, Stronger Communities

Earlier this year I met a Polish woman in Luton who told me that the day before she had rung the school to tell them that her 10-year-old daughter was too ill to go to school. This was significant for her as it was the first time she felt confident enough in her English language ability to do this herself. Her husband had always previously made any phone calls that had to be made in English. She was so proud of herself. She was so determined to develop even more English language. She was inspiring the other women in the group, none of whom had ever spoken English on the phone.

Good Things Foundation is evolving, now we have even more emphasis on social inclusion and social change. Social exclusion is very broad; it includes unemployment, loneliness, isolation, and poverty. For a lot of people in the UK who don’t speak English, they’re affected by some or all of these issues. Our English My Way programme, which has been running since 2013, aims to help people with little English language integrate into their communities. That Polish woman in Luton was an English My Way learner and this week we’re celebrating the success of this programme – releasing a report, an infographic, videos and more.

Evaluating success

The ‘big news’ release is the final evaluation report from phase three of the project. This was the first time we’d put a particular focus on isolated women and we also supported community partners in their delivery through capacity building, identifying best practice, progression routes and programme/product development.

Headline stats for me are:

  • 2,789 learners completed the informal 24-week course designed to help people who speak no English to gain some everyday language for use in their daily lives
  • 63% of the learners reported improved English proficiency
  • 45% progressed onto a formal course to go onto that next step and develop more language skills (such as an Entry Level 1 ESOL course).

Seeing is believing

Sometimes describing a project and the impact it has on people simply isn’t enough. English My Way has helped so many people to improve their lives and we really wanted people to see that. That’s why we’ve put together some videos, which you can view below.

Nageswary is a learner at Benn Partnership in Rugby who fled her country after conflict meant she lost her house and husband. She’s a true inspiration and an excellent example of English My Way success.

The second video shows the group dynamic element of English My Way, which is one of the great parts of the programme. A lot of learners get involved because of loneliness or isolation and being able to come together in a group to learn something significant and life-changing helps them to overcome this and make friends. We filmed this video at Neighbours in Poplar in London.

What else is going on?

We’ve also released an infographic this week demonstrating the top stats from the first three phases of the project and from this we’ve created fun social media GIFs. My colleague Chris has also written a blog and we’ve released a special Delivering ESOL in Libraries handbook.

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You can download the full infographic on our website using the link in the paragraph above

 

There’s so much going on and rightly so because this project deserves all of the attention it gets.

This year we’re developing some mobile optimised online learning content and a taster of English My Way so that more local partners can use these resources to change more people’s lives.

Thank you to all the English My Way centres who have made the project such a success so far and a big thank you to the staff and learners who took part in our videos.

Digital skills in Sheffield: Just Google it!

We work with lots of partners across sectors to make good things happen with digital and to reach those 11.5m people without basic digital skills. One of those partners is Google and today I was delighted to speak at the launch of their Digital Garage, right on Good Things Foundation’s doorstep here in Sheffield.

Helen

With our new ways of working, we’re doing a lot more internationally – we’re setting up offices in Australia, we’ve done work in the Philippines and we’re doing a pilot project in Kenya. But Sheffield is my home and I’m so pleased that Google has chosen to open a Digital Garage here.  

Our project with Google is based around their Digital Garage training and it’s aim is to help learners improve their digital skills and grow their confidence or business online. It’s great for both small business owners and individuals looking to boost their CV.

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the launch, along side Sheffield Heeley MP and Shadow Digital Minister Louise Haigh and Vice President of Marketing for Google UK Torsten Schuppe.

Learners who attend the one-to-one mentoring, masterclasses and workshops here will be able to boost their digital skills, very much like Alison from Cheshire.

A mixing bowl of skills

Alison owns her own business called Alison’s Bespoke Cakes and Balloons, but being dyslexic she lacked the confidence needed to use computers and the internet. After a little convincing from her friend Sue, Community Librarian at Eccles Library in Salford, she decided to pop along to their Digital Garage classes to get the help she needed to boost her business.

Alison is still taking part in the classes but her knowledge and perspective on computers and the internet has come a long way. She now has a Facebook page and is working on a website and logo with a professional designer.

Alison is great example of how the Digital Garage is helping people to not only boost their skills but also their confidence in using computers and the internet to make their business a success.

How you can get involved?

If you think you can benefit from the free training at the Digital Garage, they’ll be in Sheffield for six months, so there’s plenty of time to pop in and see what it’s all about.

For those who need to get to grips with the basics, the Google staff will be on hand to get them started on Learn My Way, while those who are a bit further in their learning journey or are specifically looking to use digital to further their business will be using the Digital Garage resources.

Any Online Centres Network members who are based in Sheffield – Learn for Life, Southey Forum and Foxhill Forum, to name a few – feel free to drop in and see what’s happening.

You can find out more about the classes and book on to some of their sessions here.

An exciting future for Good Things Foundation

If you follow me or any of the team on Twitter, you’ll have noticed we’ve been advertising some exciting new jobs. These new jobs are part of a new way of working at Good Things Foundation that will see us grow as an organisation, develop new cohesive programmes that drive social change, and test and pilot the best approaches to helping people to improve their lives.

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Our mission is a world where everyone can benefit from digital. Everything we do is to help us achieve this mission. All our work is now focused in two new programmes: digital inclusion and social inclusion. We have projects and partnerships within these to ensure we’re having the biggest impact possible.

Our Digital Inclusion programme is led by Adam Micklethwaite. We want to close the digital divide once and for all, and ensure everyone has the skills, self efficacy and confidence to thrive in a digital world. The Digital Inclusion programme will include our large-scale DfE-funded Future Digital Inclusion programme, which has already helped hundreds of thousands of people to improve their basic digital skills, and it will include other important projects including training Digital Champions, developing new content, supporting rural hubs, and helping small businesses funded by partners including Lloyds Banking Group, Google, Prince’s Countryside Fund, and TalkTalk. The programme will also include place-based approaches, working with councils like Leeds and Sunderland. We’re also going global to share our digital inclusion expertise and ideas with projects in Australia.

Our Social Inclusion programme is headed up by Charlotte Murray. We want socially excluded people to have better lives and we achieve this by using digital to drive positive social outcomes and tackle some of our most pressing social challenges. Our Social Inclusion programme has at its heart tackling inequalities such as lack of English language skills, loneliness and isolation, and financial exclusion. The programme includes our work with the Money Advice Service, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Comic Relief, NHS, HMRC and the Big Lottery Fund. As with digital inclusion, we’re also going global with social inclusion with a pilot in Kenya to assess the social impact of digital literacy alongside the Sustainable Development Goals. Charlotte and her team will ensure what we’re doing in this space has deep impact on the most excluded in society today.

A third new Directorate will drive a new way of designing and innovating interventions that make a difference in digital and social inclusion. This new Design and Innovation Directorate is led by Bea Karol Burks. Our aim is to pilot and test new approaches to tackling both digital and social exclusion interventions and projects that can then be scaled. I’m really excited about this new approach that we’ll be taking, and piloting and design won’t just be a new team, but a new approach we’ll be taking to ensure our work is having an impact.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Good Things Foundation – from staff past and present, to our partners across the country who have made what we do possible. I’m really excited about the future, and I know we’ll continue to have a huge impact – through our network, our digital platforms, and our partnerships. If you think you can play a role, and you’re passionate about the things that we are, then do get in touch.

The biggest news of the week…

…to me anyway. Today, I gave the keynote for the launch of Lloyds Banking Group’s Consumer Digital Index 2017, where I talked about the importance of improving digital skills for the people who are most excluded in our society and how we can all be part of that solution by working together across sectors. One big piece of news to come out of the launch was that in the past year, 1.1 million more people in the UK now have the five basic digital skills they need to thrive in our digital society. This means that the 12.6 million that I’m always talking about has gone down to 11.5 million.

Of course this is still a considerable amount of people but it’s great news as it certainly means we’re moving in the right direction.

 

1.1 million

Image courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group’s Consumer Digital Index 2017

 

#DigitalIndex17

This is the second Consumer Digital Index that has been compiled by Lloyds Banking Group and it is a valuable resource for the tech industry, providing a unique view of, not only the digital capability, but the financial capability of the UK population.

This year’s Index has the addition of a ‘Basic Digital Skills measure’ which paints a clear picture of the state of our digital nation. The measure is designed by digital skills charity Doteveryone and looks at the five skills which help people make the most of the internet: managing information, transacting online, communicating, problem solving and creating.

Of course, the main focus on the Index is on money and financial capability, so it also contains the new addition of quantitative research from the financial inclusion charity Toynbee Hall, in order to paint a clearer picture of those who don’t have a bank account and their financial and digital needs. FYI, the number of UK adults who do not have a bank account is 1.71m.

Key findings

One of the main findings is that the 63% of people who do not have a bank account but who do have a smartphone cope fairly, or sometimes, well with money, however there are still 16.2m people who need more support with financial education.

Financial resilience is a big problem for a lot of people in the UK. The Index has found that without their regular income, 30% of people wouldn’t be able to manage financially for more than a month – this rises to 48% for low income households.

 

Financial capability

Image courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group’s Consumer Digital Index 2017

 

In terms of savings, digital can help. The Index has found that digitally capable people are saving more than twice as much as those who are not and the average amount that people can save per year by using discount and cashback websites is £444 – a massive saving. It also found that 67% of people have used online banking to help avoid paying overdraft fees.

Digital Capability

Image courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group’s Consumer Digital Index 2017

 

Digital Motivation

Despite the fact that there are now 1.1 million more people in the UK with digital skills, there are still challenges in motivating the people who have never used the internet (the “offline”). Motivation is very important, because without it, people simply won’t do it.

68% of the offline population actually said that nothing could motivate them to get online but 45% of people said they turn to friends and family to learn how to use the internet.

Barriers

Image courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group’s Consumer Digital Index 2017

 

In Online Centres across the UK, staff and volunteers are motivating people to get online. Whether that’s by tailoring devices to their needs, piquing their interest by showing them videos of their favourite music artists on YouTube or showing someone whose family lives abroad that they can speak with them via Skype. It’s all about engagement and once they’ve found that spark, more often than not, it’s followed by a roaring fire.

Powerful recommendations

One of the recommendations in the Index states that ‘the best way to increase the pace of change in the level of financial and digital skills’ is with direct dialogue, either through face-to-face support or peer-to-peer guidance. I am very much on board with this. Good Things Foundation works with over 5,000 local centres across the UK – the Online Centres Network. We’re a big club with a shared vision; a social movement and every day the volunteers and tutors in these centres help people, like Daniel Blake (from the film “I, Daniel Blake”). They are genuine trusted faces in very local places, reaching those most in need.

Another recommendation is to widen the conversation – according to the Index 43% of people don’t know where to go for help to learn digital skills. To reach this 43%, it’s more important than ever for us all to work together. For example, Lloyds Banking Group staff can point their customers towards their local Online Centre to gain help.

Panel session

On the panel with Leigh Smyth and Sarah Porretta from Lloyds Banking Group, Sian Williams from Toynbee Hall and Karen Price from the Tech Partnerhship

 

I was delighted that we were a partner in reviewing and advising on the Index, and I was also delighted to be given the opportunity to speak at the launch. Lloyds Banking Group is a great partner of ours and they really do get it. They get that helping people to be digitally included helps people to have a better life, and it’s better for society, and for the bank too. They are exemplar partners, embedding digital inclusion right across their banking divisions.

Final musings

Everybody can help – Government, big companies, small organisations, individuals – but we need to do this quicker. We can all do more, everyone including Lloyds and Good Things Foundation and the Online Centres Network. If we all work harder as well as better together, we can make sure everyone everywhere is on the same page and we’ll be able to achieve so much more – even if it’s simply pointing digitally challenged friends or family towards their local Online Centre.

At next year’s Digital Index launch, we don’t want to be celebrating another 1 million people helped – we want to be celebrating 2 million, 3 million, 4 million more.

As Nick Williams from Lloyds Banking Group said: “We shouldn’t give up, we can’t give up, we won’t give up.”

The Digital Capital of Europe

I can’t stress enough the huge benefits of learning digital skills. We help so many people through the Online Centres Network to realise the importance of learning and developing this skill set but there are still some people who just don’t think it’s relevant. In fact, according to our Digital Nation infographic 2016, one of the most commonly perceived barriers to 50% of people getting online is that they think they don’t need digital. But the Tech Nation 2017 report, released last week, has a lot of stats in it demonstrating how vital tech is, not just to individuals but to the economy, and this really backs up my argument.

This is the third annual report of its type released by Tech City and it analyses how technology companies are performing across the country in individual areas. To produce the report they analysed data points, collected survey responses and incorporated insights from over 220 community partners across the UK, in order to get the clearest picture from those who know best – those working on the ground.

Some very interesting stats

The type of people discussed in the report have a lot more experience in the world of digital than the socially and digitally excluded people that we aim to reach within the Online Centres Network but I found the stats interesting as they show just how beneficial technology and the tech industry can be to individuals and to the economy as a whole, and there’s no reason why the people supported through the network can’t become a ‘techie’ themselves.

With 12.6 million digitally excluded people in the UK, I’d never thought of it as the digital capital of Europe but according to this report and these stats, that’s what we are. In the UK, digital tech investment stood at £6.8bn in 2016 (£28bn in the past 5 years), compared with other EU countries like France (£2.4bn in 2016) and Germany (£1.4bn in 2016).

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Image courtesy of Tech Nation 2017

 

Thinking about this kind of investment, surely that means the tech industry is giving back to the economy? It is. The annual contribution to the UK economy for tech workers is £103,000 per year – their gross added value is more than double that of the £50,000 contribution from those not working in technology.

With such huge benefits to the economy, individuals working in the tech industry are greatly rewarded. The average tech salary in the UK is £50,663 compared with non-tech jobs which stands at £35,155. This is 44% higher than the national average.

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Image courtesy of Tech Nation 2017

 

There’s more jobs in this area too. Between 2011 and 2015 the growth rate of digital jobs was more than double that of non-digital jobs and the report found that the UK has 1.64 million digital tech jobs in total; the digital economy is growing 50% faster than the wider economy.

But we have to make sure that we’re helping the tech industry to be all it possibly can be and that means tackling the problems they face head on. One problem which didn’t surprise me was highlighted in the report, stating that poor digital infrastructure is a business challenge for many (28% – over a quarter of survey respondents). This isn’t just in rural areas – the highest proportions were in large cities such as Glasgow, Dundee and Brighton.

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Image courtesy of Tech Nation 2017

 

Why start a career in tech?

I suppose many people would ask this question. If these stats aren’t enough to convince you, I really don’t know what is. The benefit of digital skills, not just to the economy, but to individuals as well are endless and working in the technology industry can be very rewarding, especially when you’re developing apps and systems which will benefit those who are most in need, everything from helping those with hearing loss to fighting deforestation.

I think a career in tech can be beneficial and rewarding in more ways than one. But don’t take my word for it – get out there, adopt your inner ‘techie’ and see what the world has to offer.

Read the full Tech Nation 2017 report here.