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Digital Skills Blog

Digital Skills are a Lifeline

22nd May 2020

There are so many lessons to be learned from the Covid19 pandemic. The impacts upon society, upon the economy and our health and wellbeing are profound. Changes have occurred all around us, and we are now starting to appreciate that many of those changes are permanent. One of the most visible lessons that we are learning is just how critical Digital Skills are during times of crisis and disruption. Naturally, this is not news to Cosmic – we have long been preachers of this lesson.  Julie Hawker, Joint CEO at Cosmic explains “Digital Inclusion and all that it means is at the very heart of Cosmic’s business model and social objectives. Supporting individuals and businesses to take advantage of digital technologies and succeed in the digital world is our fundamental ambition.”

But for many people, businesses, authorities and organisations, the sudden reliance on digital technologies has become a dominant theme. Whether its pivoting your sales model to become 100% online e-commerce, using Microsoft Teams to enable colleagues to collaborate remotely, or meetings and keeping in touch with friends via a Zoom quiz night – Digital has been a force for good, and a true lifeline for many.

The Covid19 crisis hasn’t necessarily changed the way we use digital technology, or even altered the path that we were on – but it has clearly sped up the process of moving from an analogue world to a digital one. Digital Transformation was an inevitability for organisations – “if you don’t adopt the changes, you’ll get left behind”. But many people were resistant to change, fearful of the consequences, or simply just slow to adapt. Covid19 and the global Lockdown has forced Digital Transformation upon us, bringing it forward by several years. In many businesses and organisations, reports indicate that as much as 2 years worth of digital transformation has been achieved in 2 months.

Those who could take advantage of Digital, did. Those who had access to the resources, and the skills to use them, have fared best so far – giving themselves the best chance of survival, the best opportunity to stay safe, happy and well.

But what about those who don’t have the access, the knowledge, skills or means to use Digital? The gap has just widened. Digital Exclusion has just taken on a more profound and critical meaning than ever before. The Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020 published this week, gives us unapparelled insight into the true picture of Digital Exclusion, and the state of play at this time. Over the last five years, the Consumer Digital Index has used the behavioural data of 1 million people and interviewed almost 7,000 consumers, to create the UK’s largest measure of digital capability. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings in this year’s report:


Digital skills can be a lifeline for people and are even more likely to be at this moment in time.


For people with high digital engagement, there are significant lifestyle and well-being benefits.

  • 87% say it helps them to connect better with friends and family
  • 84% say it helps them to organise their life
  • 55% say it makes them feel more part of a community
  • 44% say it helps them to manage physical and mental well-being



Age remains the biggest indicator of whether an individual is online.

At a crucial time when digital can turn isolation into inclusion, the behavioural data shows that only 7% of over 70s are likely to have the capability to shop and manage their money online. In fact, 77% of this age group have Very Low digital engagement. It is not just the elderly who are under-equipped though; 52% of those offline are between 60 and 70 years old, and 44% of those offline are under the age of 60. Often, it is the most vulnerable and disadvantaged who are the most likely to be digitally excluded.

  • People with an impairment are 25% less likely to have the skills to access devices and get online by themselves
  • People with an annual household income of £50,000 or more are 40% more likely to have Foundation digital skills, than those earning less than £17,499
  • 4-in-10 benefit claimants have Very Low digital engagement.


Digital capability can also unlock people’s potential in their professional lives.

61% of highly digital citizens have used the Internet to successfully apply for a job and 71% say it has helped them to improve their future work prospects. With over two-thirds of roles now requiring digital capability of some kind, it is the digitally savvy who will pip others to the post.




The UK workforce is still digitally underpowered – support with confidence and capability could unlock productivity for UK Industry.

An estimated 17.1 million (52%) people in the workforce lack digital skills in the workplace; both they and their companies are missing out as a result. In the past twelve months, 100,000 more people have improved their digital skills at work, but c. 1.8 million people (5%) are still at the starting blocks with just the foundations of getting online.




Employers could do more, and may need more support, in order to effectively motivate and upskill their employees.

23% of the population have received digital skills training and support from their employer and only 10% of employees who have improved their skills, have been motivated to do so by their careers and workplaces.





Link to the full Lloyds Report can be found here.