Nearly 1 in 10 in the UK have never used the internet, according to report

More than 12 million 'digitally illiterate' and UK faces 'digital skills crisis' say new report's authors

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 June, 2016, 9:05pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 June, 2016, 12:15pm

The high number of adults lacking basic digital skills in the UK is costing the country's economy £63 billion (US$89.2 billion) a year, according to new figures released Monday.

According to the Digital Skills Crisis report, published by Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, some 12.6 million adults in the UK are digitally illiterate, and almost 6 million people in the country have never used the internet – close to 10 per cent of the UK's population.

"The evidence is clear that the UK faces a digital skills crisis," states the report.

The report shows that the digital skills gap is apparent in the education sector as well as the workforce: Only 35 per cent of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30 per cent of the required number of computer science teachers have yet to be recruited.

"The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow's workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need," said Member of Parliament and Science and Technology Committee Chair Nicola Blackwood.

According to the report, 13 per cent of computer graduates are still unemployed six months after leaving university.

"The digital skills gap in the UK has been long talked about, but the hard truth is, it's getting wider... While there is much for [the] government to do, companies need to engage with education, to foster new digital talent and provide stronger local networking opportunities to open up dialogue with students and universities," said Michael Gould, CTO and founder of British tech unicorn Anaplan.

The study also states that some 72 per cent of employers say they are unwilling to interview candidates who do not have basic IT skills. The average advertised salary in digital roles is just under £50,000 (US$70,000) - 36 per cent higher than the national average.

Almost 90 per cent of new jobs in the UK require digital skills to some degree. In order to meet this demand - the U.K. will need an additional 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017.

The authors of the report urged the UK government to release its digital strategy program, which was anticipated for January but will now not be released until after the EU referendum, according to UK newspaper The Times.

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