LOCKED OUT BEFORE LOCKDOWN: ONE IN EIGHT PEOPLE IN THE EAST LACK BASIC DIGITAL SKILLS

  • One in seven (15%) people in the East of England lack the ‘essential digital skills’ needed for day-to-day life online
  • But, more than a third (39%) have boosted digital skills during lockdown

 

One in eight (13%) people in the East of England were unable to use the internet by themselves prior to lockdown, lacking the basic skills required to communicate, shop or bank online, the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index (CDI) has revealed.

Technology is now a necessity for keeping connected, working remotely and accessing vital information. Research1 carried out before the introduction of lockdown restrictions showed that one in seven (15%) of those surveyed in the East of England lacked the digital skills needed for everyday life2, with more than one in ten (11%) unable to connect a device to a Wi-Fi network, and around one in ten (9%) unable to turn on a device and log into accounts or profiles they have.

However, in a separate poll3 carried out after lockdown measures were introduced, more than a third (39%) of people said they have now taken action to boost their digital skills for work, health and well-being during the crisis.

Matt Hubbard, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for the East of England, said: “Being online has proven to be incredibly valuable in recent months as we all adapt to working from home and keeping in touch with loved ones remotely.

“It’s worrying to see that there are still people in the East who are struggling with essential digital skills. But, with so many people in the region working to boost their skills, we’re narrowing the digital skills gap and it’s clear that many are doing their bit to help friends and loved ones stay connected.

“We also understand that it shouldn’t fall to individuals alone to boost their digital skills and are committed to helping people and businesses with this challenge. That’s why we’ve got Digital Champions on hand to help people get online, and for those wanting to develop their skills there is the Lloyds Bank Academy, a free online resource designed to help with basic online training.”

Even before lockdown, people in the East of England with high levels of digital engagement recognised the benefits of these skills, with eight in ten (80%) saying it helps them stay connected to friends and family, more than half (54%) say it improved their ability to get a job, and more than a third (35%) reporting it helps manage and improve their physical and mental health.

Boosting skills in lockdown

In the last few weeks of UK lockdown, almost nine in ten (87%) of people surveyed in the East of England believe that the situation has escalated the need to be online and over eight in ten people (86%) have felt that technology has been a vital support during the outbreak.

Almost one in four (39%) across the East of England have taken action and boosted their digital skills, with more than a third (35%) reporting they have up-skilled for work reasons, while four in ten (41%) are using technology more than usual to help them with their health and wellbeing.

Of those in the East of England who have improved their skills, six in ten (61%) are self-taught, a fifth (21%) are calling upon family members for support and a similar proportion (20%) are relying on friends.

More than one in three (39%) in the East of England have also helped other people improve their digital skills during this period. Staying in touch with others is the most popular reason to ask for help, with more than two thirds (68%) of people helping their family members to use apps such as Zoom or WhatsApp. This is followed by banking and shopping cited by more than a third (38%) of respondents.

Encouragingly, more than half (59%) of people in the East of England want to continue to boost their skills beyond the current climate, with almost a quarter (23%) having used the time at home to do online learning to improve digital skills.

Stephen Noakes, Managing Director, Retail Transformation, Lloyds Bank, said: “The impact of lockdown has brought into sharp focus just how important digital skills are, when all of a sudden it may be the only way for some people to stay connected to loved ones, buy food or get hold of other essential items such as medicine.

“While this unprecedented situation may have a greater impact on those who remain digitally excluded than those who are online, it is encouraging that this has focused people’s attention on digital capability as a vital life skill. We and many others have responded to this with extra support, including free training through our Academy, but more needs to be done to close the digital divide.”

Helping to address the digital divide

The latest Consumer Digital Index also shows that without any intervention, by 2030, a quarter of the UK will still have a very low level of digital engagement.

To help people improve their skills Lloyds Bank is running online digital skills training via the Lloyds Bank Academy. Free webinars are held each week providing access to digital experts, training on key skills and opportunities for virtual networking to support individuals, local businesses and charities. Everyone can access free online resources at www.lloydsbankacademy.com.

In addition, through a new partnership with WeAreDigital, a specialist phone line has been introduced to help up to 20,000 customers access the internet and learn new skills to help with everyday digital tasks such as online shopping and connecting virtually with family and friends, as well as online banking. Over 20,000 of the Group’s Digital Champions are also using online volunteering platforms and telephone services to help the most vulnerable in society during this difficult time.

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