Is the UK falling behind when it comes to digital skills? A recent survey by the Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2019 states that 53% of working age adults in the UK – that’s 17.3 million people – do not have the essential digital skills they need for work. Equally eye catching, the survey states that 22% of adults in the UK – 11.9 million people – do not have the essential digital skills for life. The survey quotes an array of other startling statistics which clearly show that there is some catching up to be done. The economic implications are stark – if the UK is to remain a global leader, digital skills and use of technology have to be prioritised.

In response, the Department for Education (DfE) has introduced a new essential digital skills (EDS) framework and associated national standards. Adults aged 19+ with no or low digital skills will be entitled to take EDS qualifications free of charge under the Adult Education Budget from September 2020, in line with existing entitlements for English and maths. Whereas the 2006 basic ICT skills standards assumed that users went online for specific activities, the new EDS standards reflect the significant advances in digital technology and the way that most people are now continually online.

The EDS standards cover five areas:

  • Using devices and handling information – using devices, finding and evaluating information, managing and storing information, identifying and solving technical problems
  • Creating and editing – creating and editing documents and digital media, processing numerical data
  • Communicating – communicating, sharing and managing traceable online activities
  • Transacting – using online services, buying securely online
  • Being safe and responsible online – protecting privacy and data, being responsible online, digital wellbeing

New topics include:

  • The variety of online communication (not just email)
  • The digital footprint we create
  • Buying securely online
  • Storing and accessing files from the cloud
  • Being responsible online
  • Understanding rights under data protection law

DfE has commissioned the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) to deliver a blended CPLD programme to prepare teachers, trainers and leaders to deliver the new qualifications based on the standards. Programme development has been informed by research on ‘Workforce Capability to Deliver the Digital Entitlement’ commissioned by the ETF, the grant-funded national support body for the Further Education (FE) and Training sector, and conducted between November 2018 and February 2019 across 76 organisations which showed that practitioners welcome the new entitlement but would like support to prepare for delivery, especially in certain aspects.

The new CPLD programme, which is being delivered by a specialist consortium led by Sero Consulting with DESQ, will be structured around a blended training model including:

  • An interactive self-assessment tool
  • A series of 20 short online learning modules
  • Face-to-face training and online webinars
  • A multimedia toolkit to provide guidance on the CPLD package
  • Development of a community of practice to offer peer-to-peer support

The self-assessment toolkit and the microlearning modules will be hosted on the ETF’s Enhance Digital Teaching Platform which has already proved a popular resource for teachers and trainers seeking to develop their digital skills. The self-assessment tool will link to the training modules to respond to the differentiated spiky skills gap profiles of practitioners. The modules themselves will use gamification to motivate, reward and acknowledge progress with digital badges. The face-to-face training and webinars will help to build confidence and share practice related to different teaching contexts.

It is anticipated that the programme will be particularly helpful for those teachers and trainers who are not ICT specialists but rather will deliver digital skills training as part of another learning programme such as ESOL or Preparation for Life and Work.

The programme is free to providers and staff and will be fully launched on 17 February 2020 with face-to-face training starting from late-January. The Enhance Digital Teaching Platform is also free to access, aimed at educators to help them embed EdTech in their teaching and training practice.

To receive more information as the programme develops, please email the training delivery lead: Sero Consulting

To find out more information about the ETF’s work in the area of EdTech and Digital Skills, please visit the ETF website here.