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U.K. Digital Skills Cebr study: The power of digital to close the gender gap

A new Cebr study shows that the UK economy would reap a £14.3 billion benefit from investing in the nation’s digital skills, with a return of almost £10 for every £1 invested.
An estimated 12.6 million adults, or 23% of the UK adult population – that’s almost one in four – lack at least one of the five Basic Digital Skills, defined as Managing information, Communicating, Transacting, Problem-solving and Creating.A new Cebr study commissioned by digital inclusion organisation Tinder Foundation and digital skills charity Go ON UK estimates that over the ten year period between 2016 and 2025, 4.9 million of those who do not possess Basic Digital Skills will get online without additional help, but the remaining 7.9 million (15% of the adult population) will still need support to gain Basic Digital Skills at an estimated cost of between £44 and £351 per person.The study calculates that with an investment of £1.31 billion in skills provision and £336 million spending on digital devices by individuals over a ten year period, the economy would reap a £14.3 billion benefit, with a return of almost £10 for every £1 invested.The report sets out the six main benefits to individuals and to the Government of equipping 100% of the population with Basic Digital Skills:

Earnings benefits – people in work who gain basic digital skills can increase their earnings by between 3% and 10% . If everyone in work is to gain these skills, it will lead to net earnings benefits of £358 million per year for individuals, and £243 million per year for Government from higher income tax and national insurance receipts by 2025.

Employment benefits – digital skills help unemployed people find work and prepare people for work-readiness. It also encourages those who are economically inactive to start looking for work. It is estimated these benefits will lead to £204 million per year for individuals’ earnings, and £79 million for government by 2025.

Communication benefits – digital skills improve the ability to communicate and connect with family and friends, leading to increased spend on recreation and cultural activities. The report estimates the aggregate additional expenditure on recreational and cultural activities to amount to £415 million per year by 2025.

Transaction benefits – Shopping online saves people on average 13% compared to shopping in-store, equivalent to £143 per person per year. The estimated transaction benefits of giving Basic Digital Skills to those currently without them are £796 million per year by 2025.

Time savings – By accessing services online, individuals save 30 minutes of their leisure time on average per transaction , saving 30 hours annually. In monetary terms, this time saving is estimated to be worth £1.5 billion per year by 2025.

NHS cost savings – Tinder Foundations’ NHS Widening Digital Participation programme found that after having learnt about health resources through training, a third of learners made fewer visits to a doctor. Based on a cost to the NHS of £45 per GP visit, ensuring everyone had the Basic Digital Skills to access health information online would provide savings of £121 million a year by 2025.

Can harnessing the power of digital close the gender gap?

Zahra Bahrololoumi, a Managing Director at Accenture examines the affect the digital revolution is having on society and how it is transforming the workplace.

We have all heard it so often, we’ve almost forgotten how true it is. Digital has changed everything.

It’s transformed every aspect of our lives and increasingly impacts those transactions we DON’T see – the dialogues between machines and systems; the data organisations gather on us and about us, and how they use it; the end to end processes behind our every interaction.

And then it surprises us.  It reveals a capacity to create societal change that we hadn’t seen coming.

This week International Women’s day has once again refocused our minds on the importance of fielding your best team – and that the best team is diverse, innovative and multi-talented.  We can’t leave anyone on the bench.

Accenture has just completed research that reveals that digital is increasingly playing a pivotal role in enabling women in the workplace. And this has the effect of accelerating real social change – our research suggests that by harnessing the power of digital technology, advanced economies that ours in the UK, will be able to close the gender gap in 25 rather than 50 years.

The barriers that women experience in finding, and succeeding in work,  what we call “education to advancement”,  can be rapidly and significantly reduced by harnessing the changes occurring through the digital economy.  Flexible working (patterns, location, roles) coupled with the ability of digital technology to help entrepreneurial new businesses – mean that more and more women can both enter the workforce and manage their lives and careers more effectively.  In our research 63% of women and 50% of men are confident that digital has the power to level the playing field for women. Put simply women will thrive as traditional ways of working are replaced by the digital economy.

And when you look more closely at the research and break down the respondents by gender, those at the pointy end of the debate are feeling the effect. Women believe more strongly than men that their lives, their careers, their homes are being transformed by the flexibility and access that digital creates.  67% of women versus 58% of the men we asked believed that “digital is enabling more flexible ways to work that will allow more women to enter, remain, or return to the workforce”.

The impact of this can only be accumulative as digital transforms the way education is accessed and the way women see their employment prospects.   And perhaps more than that – if we accept (and at Accenture we very much do) that it is vital that we get more women and girls into STEM careers – then the ubiquity of technology must have an impact of how comfortable girls and women feel in STEM careers.  As technology enables, empowers and even invades our lives – will more and more women feel that technology careers are less alien? Rather powerfully one statistic stands out from our research – 70% of women and 60% of men believe a digital world will empower their daughters.

That alone may be the legacy many of us hold onto as navigate the disruption and challenge that digital presents – the Holy Grail some might say of the digital revolution – a generation of men and women whose working lives are transformed by the power of technology.

Learn more about Accenture – champion of gender equality >>

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has supplied independent economic forecasting and analysis to hundreds of private firms and public organisations.
Business in the Community is a business-led charity committed to shaping a new contract between business and society, and are committed to ensuring that age, gender, race and wellbeing do not limit an employee’s engagement and success in the workplace.

About Dimitra D.

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