We published our digital inclusion strategy two years ago. Now is a good time to reflect on what’s been achieved and consider what to do next.
We have invested heavily in basic digital skills. Both the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and NHS England have put in place programmes to improve the skills of customers. From this April, government departments and the wider public sector will be able to use the digital training and support framework to procure digital skills training, which means it will be easier and quicker to meet their needs.
We have built some great partnerships. For example, with BT, Barclays and the Society of Chief Librarians we have worked to roll out Wifi and training in libraries and community hubs. We have also seen buddying schemes and champion networks, alongside central government Digital Friends initiatives. Key Departments and business sector partners have set up Digital Friends initiatives, ensuring civil servants and other staff can play a strong role in helping others to learn and use basic digital skills. Government also continues to support the work done by Tinder Foundation through their network of UK Online Centres.
Significant products created and launched have included the Digital Inclusion Outcomes Framework, Citizens Online Digital Resilience programmes, Lloyds UK Business Digital Index and Consumer Digital Index for business, charities and individuals and Go On UK’s Heatmap.
A range of organisations have also run high profile campaigns, attracting attention to the cause and ensuring people understand why our continued work is significant. Key highlights include Tinder Foundation’s Get Online Week, Digital Unite’s Spring Online and EE’s Techy Tea Parties.
A Look Forward
From inclusion to engagement
Motivation remains a huge barrier to people moving online, and that can influence the extent to which they are prepared to tackle other barriers.
We need as many people as possible to be comfortable on-line if we are truly to have a digital nation. So all of us need to be engaged in supporting family, friends, colleagues, customers – all the people who still need to realise the benefits the internet offers.
The Digital Engagement team’s move to DCMS has enabled us to take stock and start the process of planning to build for the future. We will establish a new Digital Engagement Council and associated Task and Finish groups. Throughout the creation of the Council and the delivery of key projects, we will adhere to the following delivery principles.
Digital Engagement – Delivery principles
1: Recognise and promote digital engagement excellence
- work in parallel with a range of partners from the voluntary and private sectors to deliver initiatives that increase digital engagement
- demonstrate and share good practice
2: Government will lead by example
- ensure government systematically embeds digital engagement into policy programme and service delivery
- encourage joined up digital engagement investment where relevant
3: Strengthen collaboration to ensure effective delivery
- convene relevant voices across sectors to shape thinking, delivery and alignment of effort
- remain open and transparent in our work
4: Maintain an evidence base to inform decisions
- strengthen knowledge of what works and continuously focus on user needs to ensure activity effectively targets the right people
- build and disseminate products to inform investment in and evaluation of digital engagement initiatives
With these principles in place, our ongoing work with a wide range of cross-sector partners will continue to make a positive impact on the groups that stand to benefit most and help us build a stronger, more digital, Britain.