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Digital Technology: Disadvantaged

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 78400, tabled on 19 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of the impact of digital exclusion in the North East on the ability of individuals to access (a) education, (b) skills and (c) employment; and what steps she is taking to minimise that impact.

Answered on

24 November 2021

To gain further understanding of the regional capacities and imbalances in the UK digital economy, DCMS recently published an Assessing the UK’s Regional Ecosystems Report. The report notes that whilst household internet access in the North East is in line with the UK (median) average (94%), it is amongst the lowest UK regions for adults using the internet overall (89%) and for internet users finding information online for work / study (36%).

To help improve this, the government has introduced a range of opportunities to access skills training and gain digital skills qualifications. It has introduced the Digital Skills Entitlement for adults with no or low digital skills. Adults can undertake specified digital qualifications, up to level one, free of charge. It also offers access to digital bootcamps as a way for people to undertake digital skills training in skills that are in particularly high demand by industry. From May 2021, the government has been offering 33 free Level 3 digital skills courses to adults aged 19-24 as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

In September 2021, the Government body, the Inclusive Economy Partnership (IEP), partnered with industry leaders to launch the Digital Inclusion Impact Group to tackle digital exclusion. One of the pilot programmes is Dell Donate to Educate, which will support children across England with the right access to technology at school and at home.

DCMS’s Digital Lifeline fund provided tablets, data and free digital support to over 5,000 people with learning disabilities who would otherwise find it difficult to get online. In the North East, 387 people received devices and data through the scheme.

Named day
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