£1.3 million awarded to 15 digital skills projects in the UK through ‘Power Up’ initiative
The Good Things Foundation and J.P. Morgan have awarded grants totalling £1.3 million to 15 community-based projects in the UK aimed at closing the digital skills gap. The ultimate goal of this ‘Power Up’ initiative is to drive economic and social inclusion by supporting organisations focusing on digital skills development for employability, financial inclusion and small businesses.
The 15 projects to receive funding are located in Bournemouth, east London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and include: Glasgow Life, which aims to help businesses across the city find the digital skills they need; Poplar Harca Housing Association in east London, which will use digital champion volunteers to help local residents who are unemployed, in low pay or insecure work, or have low English language skills; and Digiparent, a project in Edinburgh that aims to give digital skills and employability to single parents in the city.
In addition to funding, from November 2019 until April 2021 each of the projects will be supported by the Good Things Foundation with the aim of ensuring their sustainability after the initiative has finished.
Power Up was developed based on research undertaken in September 2018 to identify needs, priorities and gaps in service provision. A key recommendation made as a result of this research was that “governments at all levels should embed digital skills in major initiatives for jobs and skills, financial health, and small business support – so that digital is integral, not a ‘bolt-on’.”
Despite widespread internet access, there are still many people in the UK who do not have the digital skills or confidence to benefit fully from connectivity. The latest Ofcom Internet Use and Attitudes Metrics Bulletin (2017) shows a 17% gap in internet use between adults in high and low socio-economic groups. Of people with no digital skills, 46% earn less than £17,499 a year. People with basic digital skills can expect a lifetime increase of their average earnings of 2.8%.
Helen Milner, chief executive of the Good Things Foundation, said: “We’re delighted to be funding these innovative projects, who are all using digital technology in different ways to close the digital divide, as well as develop their own services, meaning we will be seeing the knock on impacts of these projects for years to come. We believe everyone should have the skills, confidence and access to be able to take advantage of technology – and we’re aiming for 100% digital inclusion in the UK.”