Last updated: 01.10.13

Charity launches scheme to improve digital skills

A new initiative from cross-sector charity Go On UK is being launched in the north-east of Britain in an attempt to address the region's online skill shortage.

Research from the BBC and Ipsos Mori has estimated that more than 500,000 adults in this part of the country lack basic abilities when it comes to using the internet.

Now, Go On UK is looking to close the digital skills gap and fight for a 25 per cent reduction in the number of people who are computer illiterate.

Using a similar approach to the one that it adopted in 2011 when it tackled the same problem in Liverpool, the body is working with local businesses, councils and other charities, as well as holding community workshops in big football stadiums.

According to Graham Walker, chief executive officer of Go On UK, everyone has their part to play in making the initiative a success and the 26 partners involved in the scheme have 26 weeks to make a difference to the region.

He explained: "Some partners will run events, provide access points or offer incentives. Others are sharing data, advice, training and space."

Mr Walker also said that the charity chose the north-east as the location for its next project because of how heavily it relies on the 130,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within it. At present, two-thirds of these SMEs are online, but just one-third transact online.

Basic online training that Go On UK is seeking to create awareness of includes being able to send and receive emails, using a search engine effectively when surfing the net, filling in digital forms and identifying when websites can be trusted or not.

Employers can equip their staff with important online skills through a course being offered by Virtual College, an e-learning provider based in West Yorkshire.

ECDL modules educate workers about using basic programmes, including Microsoft Word 2007, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as other crucial areas of IT.