Covid-19 and the digital divide: Supporting digital inclusion and skills during the pandemic and beyond
The Centre for Ageing Better has recently published a report on Covid-19 and the digital divide. The Centre for Ageing Better is a charitable foundation funded by The National Lottery Community Fund. Their report offers examples of good practice and recommendations for organisations that deliver services to users and help digitally excluded people with skills training.
Before the pandemic, people without access to the internet were already at a significant disadvantage in terms of seeking job opportunities, accessing financial support, and connecting with organisations. The pandemic has exacerbated this situation.
The research was conducted with a range of organisations, local authorities, and people aged 50-70. The report finds that the key to building digital inclusion is more than getting people online, but also building skills and confidence.
National and local government need to recognise and promote the crucial digital support offered by local organisations to combat widening digital inequalities. It’s also important to recognise that many people still do not want to use the internet and want to continue using non-digital channels.
Key findings from the report
1. There is a significant digital divide among 50–70 year olds, exacerbated by the pandemic.
2. Digital inclusion is not just about being online, it’s also about building skills and confidence.
3. Local and national organisations have had to adapt to continue to support users throughout the pandemic.
4. There is a lack of awareness among older adults of the support available.
5. Organisations need more financial and peer support to support digital inclusion.
6. Remote support has benefits beyond the role played in the pandemic. Accessing support by phone or online can be more convenient to people and more efficient for the provider.
7. Non-digital channels still need to be supported. Many people still do not want to use the internet and want to continue using non-digital channels.