Creating a true love of digital
Over 12 million people, including a million small businesses in the UK, do not have the skills to prosper in the digital era. Well, that is the warning from Go.On UK, a charity set up to promote digital skills.
More and more charities are carrying out research on the digital skills gap in the UK and asking questions like ‘are we prepared for the digital future’? Go.On UK is one of these organisations, and has produced what it calls a ‘digital exclusion heat map’, pinpointing the areas where people are most likely to miss out on the digital revolution. The digital skills considered in the study included managing information, communication, making payments, solving problems and creating stuff online (if you can do all those then you are in good shape)! Over 4,000 people were surveyed, and poverty and lack of infrastructure played a part in those areas where skills were lacking.
But the charity says the UK isn’t doing too badly compared with other countries when it comes to broadband availability, and in our use of mobile devices we are ahead of many of our rivals.
The BBC’s Rory Cellan Jones commented: “So you might think that a country which has taken to online shopping and social media with feverish enthusiasm would also be a leader in digital skills. But it seems that we are a little below average compared with OECD rivals, and well behind countries like Japan, Finland and the Netherlands.
“The problem is not that we don’t have plenty of skilled people starting companies, creating stuff online, even just enjoying the experiences that the online world can offer. It is that nearly a quarter of the population are being left out and that has serious consequences for the rest of us.”
Go.On UK, chaired by the Government’s former digital advisor Baroness Martha Lane Fox, is warning of a threat to economic growth, productivity and social mobility if we don’t close the skills gap. It is hoping that its map will become a vital tool for those trying to deal with digital exclusion – including schools – and help them to target their resources at areas where they are most needed.
Here at Serif, we think that encouraging a general interest in computing and all things digital is important. It is not only imperative that children learn digital skills in the classroom (and more importantly, that these are all-round, transferable skills), they need to carry it home with them too.
At Serif, we offer heavily discounted home copies of our Design Suite for students. Of course, that makes it easy for students to carry their projects on at home, and easier for teachers to set relevant homework. But it also means that students can explore the Design Suite and all its programs at their own pace, with their own interests in mind. A student who is interested in web design might use WebPlus to set up their own website to promote their band, for example. Or, they might use PhotoPlus to edit their selfies ready for Facebook or Instagram! In this way, they can escape the creative boundaries of the national curriculum and truly fall in love with digital!
Making home copies more affordable means poorer students can still have access to the programs that are being used across the UK, and students can play around with the software without needing access to the internet. For more information about the Serif Student Suite, click here: http://www.serif.com/education/ssdp