Digital Inclusion And The UK Online Initiative Information Technology Essay


This paper looks into the issues environing Digital Inclusion ; the basic constructs and the strategic lineations in implementing the enterprise within the UK. The research besides traces the historical development of Digital Inclusion as a policy that has been on the authorities docket since 1997 and moves onto the present stage, analyzing its success and countries of failing.


There are presently 10 million people in the UK who are unable to utilize computing machines and the cyberspace for assorted grounds. Those that are at a societal or fiscal disadvantage are at least three times more likely to be without internet entree and are losing out on the immense benefits digital engineerings can supply.

The authorities has set digital inclusion on top of its docket ; it is seen as a key to economic success. Digital engineering is a gateway for economic prosperity on an person and national degree. It is a portal to societal inclusion and community coherence. Digital engineering has the capableness to increase productiveness and quality every bit good as holding the ability to expeditiously and efficaciously present authorities services and information ( Delivering Digital Inclusion: An Action Plan for Consultation 2008 ) .

There have been several enterprises from a broad scope of sectors in the past 10 old ages to convey digital engineerings at the head with the purpose of making a nation-wide consciousness of the benefits of digital engineerings for the society as a whole.

This paper will look at the brief history of the ever-evolving issues in Digital Inclusion, from its induction to its current phase, critically analyzing the success of the Digital Inclusion policy as a whole and UK Online Centre roles in doing digital engineering accessible to those that fall in the class of being in a disadvantage.

Historical Origin & A ; Recent Developments of the Digital Inclusion Initiative

The beginnings of Digital Inclusion can be traced back to the new Labour authorities when it came into power in 1997. The Government implemented a figure of enterprises aimed at supplying internet entree to 2 million grownups by 2002. In 2000, UK online was set up with a capital support of ?470m allocated to set up a web of 1,000 Centres which would supply entree to engineering and support to acquire on-line. A mark was set to acquire 6,000 UK online Centres by 2002. These Centres are located in the most disadvantaged wards in England. The University for Industry ( Ufi ) which was established in late 1999 designed and developed the ‘myguide ‘ web site which offers an easy-to-use electronic mail service and web hunt installation. This web site was developed in 2004 and rolled out across UK online Centres in 2007. The service is presently managed by UK online and by 1st March 2009, 132,000 people had registered on myguide with over 528,000 utilizing myguide classs. Eighty-four per cent of users said it has had a positive impact on their lives ( The Independent Review of ICT User Skills 2009 ) .

The Ufi web, the administration behind learndirect, was expanded from 600 Centres to 1,000. The purpose was to acquire single scholars to travel on from taste tester and basic ICT classs, to more advanced ICT and other classs offered by learndirect. Online introductory IT courses were besides made freely available for 50,000 grownups, including the low paid, the unemployed, individual parents and the handicapped, with a price reduction of 80 % on fees for grownups subscribing up for introductory ICT classs. By conveying together stakeholders from the private, voluntary and public sectors, the authorities established the Digital Inclusion Panel ( DIP ) in 2004. The map of the DIP was to place the groups at the greatest hazard of digital exclusion and to place future actions to drive digital inclusion ( The Independent Review of ICT User Skills 2009 ) .

The 2004 Cabinet Office study, ‘Enabling a digitally United Kingdom ‘ ( 2004 ) , reflected the work of the DIP. The study:

recommended a more collaborative attack in sharing intelligence associating to digital battle. Delivery of ICT through public services would be identified via the DirectGov and the new e-Government Unit of measurement.

reinforced the importance of the UK online Centres in encouraging digital engagement across authorities services and prosecuting difficult to make communities. The study charged the Department for Education and Skills ( DfES ) with taking on bettering ICT accomplishments and supervising entree to public webs, nevertheless, no farther programs were put in topographic point following this study.

recommended more industry engagement to promote digital engagement. It established the Alliance for Digital Inclusion, an industry-led organic structure in concurrence with the charity Citizens Online. It besides encouraged ‘Intellect ‘ to convene a new cross-industry, fully-representative group that focused on the deductions of the convergence of broadcast medium, telecommunications, broadband and the cyberspace.

In 2005 the Social Inclusion Unit published ‘Inclusion through Innovation: Undertaking Social Exclusion through New Technologies ‘ ( 2005 ) . As a consequence of this study, the Digital Inclusion Unit in England was established, funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government ( DCLG ) . The chief aim was to place and measure good pattern in undertaking societal exclusion through engineering. The chief high spot of the study was its accent on the importance of 3rd sector administration in supplying the much needed entree to socially excluded grownups. In 2007, an internal reappraisal of the Digital Strategy recommended co-ordinated authorities leading to turn to digital inclusion. This led to the constitution of a Digital Inclusion Minister and a Ministerial Committee in early 2008, supported by the Cross-Government Digital Inclusion Team.

In 2005 the DfES published ‘Harnessing Technology ‘ ( 2005 ) . This publication underlined the important function of digital accomplishments in gaining the wider skills demands of the economic system and in March 2005, the Cabinet Office Report titled ‘Connecting the United kingdom: the Digital Strategy ‘ ( 2005 ) was launched by the authorities with the purpose of implementing steps on cyberspace safety and implanting ICT in instruction. 2006 saw the publication of the ‘Leitch Review, Prosperity for all in the planetary economic system – World Class Skills ‘ ( 2006 ) . The intent of this reappraisal was to analyze the UK ‘s long-run accomplishments demands. The reappraisal set ambitious marks for increasing accomplishments amongst grownups at all Levels. Skills for Life ( SfL ) was a cardinal focal point, nevertheless no specific marks were set for ICT SfL. ‘Delivering Digital Inclusion, an Action Plan for Consultation ‘ ( 2008 ) was published in October 2008. The intent behind this publication was to guarantee all citizens, particularly those that are disadvantaged, were given the chance to profit from direct and indirect digital engineerings. The program describes authorities engagement in over 70 actions across the populace sector including a scope of private and 3rd sector enterprises such as: Digital Unite ‘s Silver Surfers ‘ Day ; Age Concern ‘s Digital Inclusion Network and Silver Surfers ‘ Week ; and AbilityNet ‘s Switched On Communities programme. In January 2009, the ‘Interim Digital Britain Report ‘ ( 2009 ) was published with the purpose of developing a scheme focused on accomplishing a to the full digital Britain.

In March 2009, the Government published ‘The Learning Revolution ‘ ( 2009 ) , a White Paper on the hereafter of informal grownup acquisition. The paper puts forward recommendations to raise the profile of informal grownup acquisition, better entree, and guarantee sustainable proviso. The White Paper makes peculiar mention to Digital Life Skills. Recommendations include:

UK online to take on a stronger function in defending informal acquisition and back uping digital inclusion: hosting a scope of new classs ; offering infinite and support for self-organised acquisition ; developing new partnerships with broadcasters and 3rd sector administrations and supplying a path to advice through the new grownup promotion and callings service webs.

DCSF to patronize the development of a myguide class faculty to assist people carry on effectual web hunts to happen information about informal acquisition chances.

A Critical Analysis of UK Online and its Enterprise

Digital Britain ( 2009 ) topographic points digital engagement as cardinal to programs for economic recovery. However research carried out by UK online has found that 46 % of MP ‘s and one in three council members thought digital investing would assist the UK recover from the economic downswing. Similarly, at least a one-fourth of concern leaders ( 27 % ) actively disagreed that ‘digital ‘ has any function to play in economic recovery. Most respondents were cognizant of digital inclusion, and while most had a reasonably accurate apprehension that disadvantaged groups were more likely to be excluded, the nexus between societal exclusion and digital exclusion was non universally accepted. Merely 60 % of MPs, 55 % of Councillors and 55 % of concern leaders believed the cyberspace could assist to level the digital playing field and span category divides. There was besides considerable confusion over what digital exclusion really meant, with most believing non holding entree to the cyberspace in the place was the unequivocal definition ( UK online Annual Review 2009 ) . These figures provide an penetration into the work that needs to be put into set uping a more robust apprehension with stakeholders about the benefits of digital investing.

Although the overall budget for grownup accomplishments proviso has seen an addition in 2004/2005, there has been a diminution in registrations on ICT programmes. Data provided by the LSC Data Service ( now replaced by the SFA ) suggests that over the same period there has been a 54 % decrease in registrations on ICT classs, fewer than 700,000 in 2007/08, and a 50 % decrease in scholars to 485,000 scholars in 2007/08. FE and Ufi are the two support watercourses where the bulk of ICT scholars have been lost. There has been a 51 % lessening in funded scholars in FE, and a 73 % lessening in Ufi. The 2 % lessening in ICT scholars in work-based acquisition has been offset by an addition in the figure of scholars on Train to Derive programmes. ACL has besides seen a little addition, of 3 % . 70 % of lost scholars since 2004/05 have been at Entry Level and Level 1. 29 % have been at Level 2 ( The Independent Review of ICT User Skills 2009 ) .

The prioritisation of classs taking to literacy, numeracy and full Level 2 appears to hold displaced ICT proviso of less than 50 hours at Entry and Level 1 in FE. The bulk of this proviso ( 75 % ) was accredited. The remotion of short classs ( fewer than nine hours ) histories for the dramatic diminution in Ufi proviso which was designed to pull grownups back into acquisition by offering short bite-sized units of acquisition. However, short classs account for merely 10 % of the entire diminution in FE ( The Independent Review of ICT User Skills 2009 ) .

There is no grounds to propose that scholars who were antecedently on funded programmes of less than 50 hours are now self-funding these programmes. The British Computer Society ( BCS ) , who delivers ECDL makings in the UK, has seen a treble decrease in registrations since 2004/05, including those which were antecedently self-funded. Success rates on ICT programmes remain one of the lowest across all topics at 70 % . The figure of ICT makings has increased over the period with the debut of NVQ, Diploma and Certificate programmes in 2004/05. Between 2004 and 2008, 261,458 makings were awarded for these new makings: 2 % at Entry Level, over 60 % at Level 1, 34 % at Level 2 and the balance at Level 3 and above ( ( The Independent Review of ICT User Skills 2009 ) .

It appears clear that those scholars who were antecedently digitally excluded ( no or low degrees of exposure to ICT ) , and who could happen a class prior to 2004, have non had the same entree to basic ICT proviso since 2005. The grounds suggests this is due to the remotion of these classs by FE suppliers in favor of those which support authorities marks ( The Independent Review of ICT User Skills 2009 ) .

UK online is go oning to supply 2 million grownups a twelvemonth with entree to engineering and support to develop digital literacy accomplishments. Up to 500 of the 6,000 UK online Centres receive grants for UK online each twelvemonth but all are nucleus funded through other paths.


The UK online centres web now plays a cardinal function in working ICT to assist better single lives, strengthen communities and achieve societal inclusion. There are 1000s of UK online Centres across England, and many usage myguide to present people to the universe of ICT. An of import facet of UK online is in back uping the development of digital inclusion as a policy country, driving consciousness, assisting to co-ordinate action and contributing to the apprehension of the issues involved.

UK online Centres conduct extended research in order to supervise the web, happen out more about current users and mark audiences, and to derive penetrations into wider digital inclusion issues and impacts. UK on-line research programme tips their selling scheme and wider concern planning, and is intended to lend and construct into the considerable organic structure of cognition being accumulated by the digital inclusion community ( UK Online Annual Review, 2009 ) .

Digital Inclusion has become a major driving force in assisting the economic system recover from the downswing it is presently confronting. Making chances for ICT proviso flexible plenty to provide for grownup scholars who are otherwise unable to take up full clip larning chances seems critical in order to make full the accomplishments gap we presently face in the UK. FE colleges supplying full clip classs are non presently able to provide for grownup scholars particularly those from the deprived wards, which is one of the grounds for the success of UK online Centres and its compact modular method of content bringing. The attack UK online has adapted shows an addition in student engagement, nevertheless what remains to be seen is the keeping of pupils and patterned advance onto higher degree classs which will take to employability makings in the close hereafter.


Does the Internet Improve Lives? UK online Centres and FreshMinds, April 2009

Enabling a Digitally United Kingdom. A model for Action. Cabinet Office, 2004

Harnessing Technology: Transforming Learning and Children ‘s Services, DfES,

March 2005

Connecting the United kingdom: the Digital Strategy, Prime Ministers Strategy Unit/DTI, 2005

Inclusion through Innovation: Undertaking Social Exclusion through New Technologies ‘ ( 2005 )

Leitch Review of Skills ( Leitch ) , Prosperity for all in the planetary economic system –

universe category accomplishments, HM Treasury, 2006

Delivering Digital Inclusion: An Action Plan for Consultation, HM Government, 2008,

Interim Digital Britain Report, BERR and DCMS, January 2009

The Learning Revolution: Informal Adult Learning White Paper, HM Government, 2009

Digital Britain: Creating Skills for the Digital Economy, entry to Lord Carter by

eSkills UK and Skillset, 2009

UK online one-year reappraisal, UK online, 2009.

Independent Review of ICT User Skills, Baroness Estelle Morris, June 2009, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills