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Review calls for basic computer skills training
An independent review published today recommends an entitlement for all adults in England to access free training in basic ICT skills.
The review, carried out by Baroness Estelle Morris, was commissioned by Government to assess whether the nation's basic computing skills needs are being met.
Baroness Morris's findings indicate there are an estimated 11.6 million adults who lack basic computing skills in England and that the elderly, those socially excluded and those with few qualifications are most at risk of being left behind in a world that becomes ever more digital.
The review, which has also informed Stephen Carter's Digital Britain report, published today, outlines the importance of digital skills to the health and well being of UK citizens as well as the wider economy. It calls for a more focused strategy to address the skills gap that has been identified.
In advising how best to address the gap in computing skills of adults in England, the review proposes an 'entitlement' to digital life skills for all adults made up of:
Baroness Estelle Morris said: "We must be ambitious about the level of ICT skills in the community. Increasingly, those who are not ICT literate will find themselves excluded as technology impacts on more parts of our lives.
"The Government set high standards in 1997 and progress has been made. The ICT infrastructure has been transformed and skill levels have increased - particularly amongst the young. We need to be careful though, that we don't settle for that. It is vital that all citizens, no matter what their age or their background, are given the chance to develop basic ICT skills.
"If this is to happen, the Government needs to have a clearer focus, be less bureaucratic and not as complex. It must work with its partners from the voluntary and private sector to persuade people that they need to learn computer skills and make it easy for them to do so.
"The entitlement proposed in this review is a step towards achieving that."
"Kevin Brennan, minister for skills in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, said: "Being able to use a computer and access the internet is a basic skill for work and life in the digital age. That's why we already invest £9 million in UK Online, which includes 6,000 centres around the country offering free or low cost access to ICT. I welcome Estelle Morris's findings and will look seriously at how we can do more to improve basic computer skills for adults most in need - including the unemployed, those at risk of redundancy and older people - as well as those in jobs."
Stephen Carter, author of the Digital Britain review, commented: "Digital life skills are a foundation for participation and employability in a digital society. Soon, everyone in this country will be connected to broadband so it is crucial every person has the basic skills and confidence to make the most of the opportunities broadband will bring.
He added: "I have outlined the importance of Baroness Morris's findings in the Digital Britain Review and look forward to seeing her recommendations being taken forward for the benefit of those who are in most need of ICT training."
The government says it will consider further how it responds to Estelle Morris's recommendations as the Digital Britain programme is taken forward.
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