Equipping people with soft skills and tackling motivational barriers can switch them onto learning new digital skills, according to a new report.
The findings come in ‘Shocks, knocks and skill building blocks’, from leading digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation, following a one-year programme of work in partnership with Accenture and Nesta.
It highlights the need for help for people to learn soft skills, such as increased confidence, better decision-making and resilience to setbacks, to lay the foundations for workers to embrace digital skills and thrive.
The impact of COVID-19 on the jobs market is visible – and with unemployment forecast to hit 2.6 million by the middle of 2021 (1) and digital skills more important and in-demand than ever, the findings offer a proven route to employability success.
The Future Proof: Skills for Work programme was designed to build work-related digital skills for unemployed or underemployed people, helping them achieve sustained employability outcomes.
With the global pandemic shaking the employment landscape to its core, the jobs market is a very competitive space where workers are required to be both digitally skilled and adaptable. Yet whilst 82% of roles require digital skills (2), 52% of working age adults do not yet have them (3).
Working with 13 community partners and helping over 900 people, the programme focused on understanding the barriers faced by learners – and how these can be overcome to help close the digital skills gap.
As a result of the programme, which was delivered remotely in communities after lockdown hit the UK last March, 70% of participants believe their digital skills have improved while 68% believe they are better prepared for employment.
The greatest change in attitude was around resilience in the face of challenges, with 27% of learners experiencing a positive change.
The project also saw a larger number of employed and higher-educated workers engaging with Good Things Foundation’s community partners and the Future Proof programme.
The new report also:
- Highlights the crucial role of hyperlocal community organisations, arguing they are best placed to help people build confidence and learn digital skills simultaneously.
- Calls for a move away from a tick-list approach to skills – including digital – to one that instead accommodates natural changes and fluctuations.
Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Good Things Foundation, said: “Working with Accenture, Nesta and our community partners, Future Proof has been ahead of the curve in terms of predicting new audience demand, skills and motivations and helping people gain digital skills alongside greater confidence and broader skills.”
“Remote working due to COVID-19 has changed working patterns permanently. This makes upskilling the workforce even more vital. With the UK in the grips of another national lockdown and nine million adults unable to use the internet without help, the Government needs to demonstrate a strong commitment to fix the digital divide, to support economic recovery.”
Camilla Drejer, Director of UK & Ireland Corporate Citizenship at Accenture said: “At Accenture, we recognise how critical it is to support people in building new skills. This programme is not just helping people learn the digital skills needed today but also motivating participants to commit to life-long learning and develop a confidence about the opportunities that the digital economy brings. Through the Future Proof programme, we are pleased to have been able to help participants understand this shift, plan for the future and take charge of their careers. We believe that it is our duty as a responsible business to focus on the value we can create and this programme is an important aspect of that.”
The full report is available to download here.
(1) OBR (Nov 2020), Economic and fiscal outlook
(2) DCMS (2019), No Longer Optional: Employer Demand for Digital Skills
(3) Lloyds Consumer Digital Index (2020)