Research conducted by Lloyds Bank has highlighted a concerning lack of basic digital skills among Scots, with one-in-four being unable to use the internet by themselves prior to lockdown.
According to data compiled in the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index (CDI), many Scots lack the basic digital skills required to even communicate, shop or bank online.
Research conducted before the introduction of lockdown restrictions showed that 18% of respondents were unable to connect to a WiFi network, with 15% unable to turn on a device and log into accounts or online profiles they own.
Before lockdown, people across the country still recognised the benefits of digital skills, however. More than 80% of respondents said it helped them stay connected to friends and family and two-fifths (43%) said it improved their ability to get a job.
Downtime to up-skill
Although the index highlights a concerning lack of digital skills and a ‘digital divide’, post-lockdown statistics show that Scots have been taking action to boost their skills for work, health and well-being during the pandemic.
In a separate poll carried out after lockdown measures were introduced, more than one-third (35%) said they are actively learning and honing their digital skills.
Additionally, almost one-third (31%) reported they have up-skilled for work reasons while two-fifths are using tech more than usual to help with health and wellbeing.
Of those who have improved their skills, 59% are self-taught and nearly a quarter (23%) have called upon family members for support.
Philip Grant, Chair of Lloyds’ Scottish Executive Committee, commented: “During this unprecedented time, it’s encouraging to see so many people taking the time to learn new skills with the help of family and friends.
“Learning to use more online services will not only be hugely useful during lockdown, but also for the future too, both in the home and workplace.”
Perception of digital skills has also changed since the outbreak. The CDI showed that 83% of Scottish respondents believe the situation has ‘escalated’ the need to be digitally literate.
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Encouragingly, according to the CDI more than half (58%) of people in Scotland said they want to continue boosting their skills beyond the current situation.
Stephen Noakes, Managing Director of Retail Transformation at Lloyds Bank, said that the current climate has enabled many people to re-assess and improve their digital skills.
He said: “The impact of lockdown has brought into sharp focus just how important digital skills are, when all of a sudden it may be the only way for some people to stay connected to loved ones, buy food, or get hold or other essential items such as medicine.
“While this unprecedented situation may have a greater impact on those who remain digitally excluded than those who are online, it is encouraging that this has focused people’s attention on digital capability as a vital life skill.”