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What are digital skills?

‘Digital skills’ can mean different things. UNESCO offer a broad definition:

A range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications and networks to access and manage information. Digital skills enable people to create and share content, communicate and collaborate, and solve problems for effective and creative self-fulfillment in life, learning, work, and social activities at large.

Basic digital skills

Basic digital skills allow you to make fundamental use of digital devices and online applications. Alongside reading, writing, and numeracy, they’re seen as crucial in the digital era – so you can do such things as open a PC and browse the web, shop and stay safe online or create and save a Microsoft Word document.

Advanced digital skills

Advanced digital skills can empower you to harness technologies and utilise your knowledge in many transformative ways – such as building a brand on social channels, video editing for TV/movies or coding for websites, apps and other software.


Why learn digital skills?

Close the gap

People with an annual household income of £50,000 or more are 40% more likely to have basic digital skills, than those earning less than £17,499*

People with a registered disability are 4 times as likely to be offline; 28% of those aged 60+ are offline**

One in ten young people lack access to an appropriate digital device on which to do their homework and build their skills, rising to one in five among young people from lower socio-economic groups***

Sources: *Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020; **;  ***Disconnected? Exploring the digital skills gapLearning and Work Institute, March 2021

Employer demand 

At least 82% of advertised openings require some level of digital skills.

Roles requiring digital skills pay 29% (£8,300) over those roles that do not (£37,000 vs £28,700) with the premium increasing at higher skill levels.

Source: Burning Glass Technologies; Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. No Longer Optional: Employer Demand for Digital Skills, June 2019.

Connectivity and wellbeing

For people with high digital engagement, there are significant lifestyle and wellbeing 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 wellbeing.

Source: Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020

Low and no-cost software options

There’s no getting around it, industry-standard graphic design software is expensive. This can discourage or even exclude those on limited income from learning new skills. 

School or college students may not be able to afford to pay for software outside of a digital skills training course. Adult education may provide such tools onsite but learners won’t have the software at home. 

Adobe dictate the pace in this market with their Creative Cloud Portal. It encompasses a truly amazing suite of graphic, web, video and other digital design software, 1000s of fonts, interactive communities, stock photography, video channels and much more.

Fortunately, in this connected world there are low or no-cost options which, if not replicate, get near to the experience of learning Adobe software – the skills learned are easily transferrable to apps like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

Leaving no one behind

We’re committed to ensuring nobody is excluded due to low income, so all our courses offer a choice between Adobe software or our free alternative. We can discuss these options before you book to make sure you or your group can continue learning. If you have specific software or apps installed at your organisation, please let us know and we’ll plan around these.


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