More than one in five adults in Scotland lack basic digital skills, report finds

A study published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations says people with disabilities are among those who are far less likely to be connected to the internet than the rest of the population

More than one in five adults in Scotland do not possess the digital skills needed to make the most of the internet, according to a study by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The report, published this week, says that older people, those with disabilities, and people on low incomes are far less likely to be connected to the internet than the rest of the population.

While there has been a large increase in Scottish household internet access over the past decade, with 77 per cent of households now connected to the internet, growth since 2016 has stalled, with the study saying that that "those who want to be connected, can get a connection and can afford the cost, have done so".

The report says the most common reasons behind adults’ digital exclusion are confidence and motivation, with 64 per cent lacking an understanding of what the internet can do to improve their lives, affordability, with 25 per cent of those living in Scotland’s most deprived areas not having access to the internet, and basic digital skills.

The figures are based on a review of relevant academic literature conducted by the University of West Scotland under commission by the SCVO and an analysis based on surveys sent to 84 digital participation projects funded by the SCVO-administered grant scheme Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter Fund.

Funds totalling almost £750,000 have been invested by the fund between 2014 and 2016, with a further £175,000 due to be made available by the Scottish Government, the European Regional Development Fund and the communications company BT.

This will be split across more projects aimed at creating better economic outcomes for working age people and reducing social isolation among the disabled and elderly via digital education.

In addition, the SCVO has set up its Digital Participation Charter, which has been backed by more than 400 organisations that are committed to tackling the issue of digital exclusion.

David McNeill, digital director at the SCVO, called for more organisations to sign the charter.

"We are calling on organisations across the public, private and third sectors working with older people, disabled people and those on low incomes to sign Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter and join a national movement to tackle digital exclusion," he said. 

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