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Digital Technology: Disadvantaged

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 78402, tabled on 19 November 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment she has made of digital exclusion on the ability of individuals to access (a) online training, (b) job searches and (c) virtual interviews.

Answered on

29 November 2021

The Government’s 10 Tech Priorities include building a tech savvy nation where no-one is left behind by the digital revolution. For this reason, the government is working to ensure that everyone has digital access to further their training and improve employment prospects.

We recognise that it is not enough for people to just have good mobile and broadband coverage. They also need to have affordable access and have the devices and skills to be able to take part in the digital economy.

On devices, the government is tackling the digital divide for adults with learning disabilities through our £2.5m Digital Lifeline fund. Throughout the pandemic, this fund has provided tablets, data and free digital support to over 5,000 people with learning disabilities, enabling them to connect with friends and family, and access services and support groups, promoting overall well being. The Lifeline fund, now in the process of evaluation, also provided mentoring and sustained support for users to increase their digital skills and confidence.

The Government is making sure that training is available for all adults wishing to acquire digital skills. In order to guarantee opportunities to develop essential digital skills, the government introduced a new digital entitlement for adults with low digital skills to undertake improved basic skills qualifications free of charge. Essential Digital Skills qualifications (EDSQs), introduced alongside the digital entitlement at entry level and level 1, are a new qualification type based on employer-supported national standards for essential digital skills, which set out the digital skills people need to get on in life and work. (Level one qualifications are GCSE grades 3, 2, 1 or grades D, E, F, G).