Britain is on the verge of a “digital skills crisis”, with almost 6 million adults having never used the internet at all. On Monday, a report published by a committee of MP’s warned that unless urgent action is taken, there is a tangible risk of damage to the country’s productivity and competitiveness. The report also criticises the government for failing to deliver on it’s long-promised digital education strategy, which has resulted in over 12 million adults lacking basic digital skills such as posting on social media, making an online bank transaction and using a search engine. The report estimates that “systemic problems” with digital education and training were already costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year in lost income. Whilst the UK is currently at the forefront of tech in Europe, the committee fears that unless concrete action is taken to ensure the workforce of tomorrow is leaving school with adequate digital skills, we will fall behind our European counterparts in the technological arena.
Failure to bridge the skills gap will ultimately have a larger effect on the poorest members of our society as it is low-skilled work that is most under threat from automation. A previous report published in 2015 has found that where skills are lacking, poverty and a lack of infrastructure are part of the story. Wales has the lowest levels of internet access and places like Merthyr Tydfil are amongst the poorest in the UK.