Millions of British people don't know how to use a search engine, send an email, or shop online.
Ever used Google to settle an argument? How about drunk-bid for an item on eBay, slid into someone’s DMs or created an insta-collage for your bezzies’ birthday? If your answer is “this is lit how I spent last Friday night” then you’re probably (a) under 35, and (b) fully clued up on basic digital skills. But such basic digital skills are something 21 percent of Brits (about 11.3 million people) still lack. More than 4 million say they have no digital skills at all.
This matters. Digital skills are needed to access large parts of the economy. More and more jobs are advertised online, and more and more employees are expected to use digital devices in their work. People increasingly look on the web for everything from tradespeople to leisure activities to dates. Small business owners, contractors and hopeless romantics who don’t know how to advertise themselves online risk missing out.
Some services, including ones offered by banks and governments, are much easier to access (or indeed can only be accessed) online. E-commerce often offers people more options and cheaper prices than bricks-and-mortar shops. (Although even more people shopping online would presumably accelerate the decline of the British high street). And information and advice that is readily available online can help people do everything from assert their workplace rights and negotiate higher salaries to learn new things and skills.
…So where next? Not only do economic ideas shape the institutions and communities we live in, they also influence our own ideas of personal success – be it earning well, achieving a ‘Dr.’ or ‘CEO’ at the front of our label, or living a sustainable life. But what with the speed at which technology is transforming our economies, we can barely predict what ‘s in store for our economies and where we’ll fit in…