further & higher education
local government
voluntary sector

Improving Digital Skills to Increase Inclusion

further & higher education

local government

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:15

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Central London


This Forum will provide attendees with an opportunity to review the latest updates and initiatives being trailed across central and local government to boost basic digital skills and improve social inclusion. Participants will hear from key stakeholders, including The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), who will outline the government’s digital skills strategy. Furthermore, best practice case studies will discuss how to deliver innovative targeted training programmes for local groups at risk of exclusion through collaborative partnerships.


This Forum is specifically designed to be a multi-sector event including Local Government, Central Government, and the Voluntary and Higher and Further Education sectors. Typical job titles attending this event will include:

  • Digital Inclusion Officers
  • Directors of Digital Transformation
  • Heads of Digital
  • Heads of Organisational Development
  • Community Engagement and Involvement Officers
  • Financial Inclusion Managers
  • Heads of Delivery and Performance
  • Service Transformation Managers
  • Heads of Public Service Reform
  • Heads of Commissioning
  • Directors of Teaching and Learning
  • Advanced Learning Practitioners
  • Digital Learning Managers
  • Education Technologists
  • Heads of Learning Resources

This Forum is also open to the Private and Health and Social Care Sectors to facilitate discussion and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Priya Ramdas, Head of Digital Skills and Inclusion Team, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
  • Isobel Thomas, Digital Social Inclusion Manager, Good Things Foundation
  • Vikki Liogier, Head of Learning Technologies, Education Training Foundation (ETF)
  • Charlotte Collyer, Regional Coordinator, Heart of the South West Digital Skill Partnership
  • John Fisher, Chief Executive, Citizens Online
  • Clive Emmett, Chief Executive, Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service 
  • Louise Aitken, Skills Lead, South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Jack Orlik, Programme Manager – Open Jobs, and Author, Digital Frontrunners: Designing Inclusive Skills Policy for the Digital Age, Nesta
View the agenda and additional speakers

According to The Good Things Foundation’s Economic Impact of Digital Inclusion in the UK report, 6.9 million people will not have the digital skills needed for life and become excluded by 2028, with 1 in 5 adults have no or low digital skills. The Government’s April 2019 Improving Adult Basic Skills: Equality Impact Assessment reported that those with no basic digital skills were likely to be female (61%) and retired (76%), and therefore already at a heightened risk of societal exclusion.

The Government published its UK Digital Strategy in March 2017, a comprehensive plan aiming to create an inclusive, world-leading digital economy. One of the core principles outlined was to ensure all could access ‘digital skills’, making the UK a hub for digital business. This was followed by the formation of the Digital Skills Partnerships, led by the DCMS, in October 2018. These cross-sector partnerships aim to support and spread digital skills, achieved through Local Digital Skills Partnerships and 6 local trailblazers. To support innovation in the sector, several different funding options have been created: the £1 million Digital Skills Innovation Fund to support underrepresented groups, a £1 million Digital Leadership Fund, £400,000 to support older and disabled peoples and a £1 million fund to encourage tackling loneliness through digital solutions. Furthermore, in April 2019 the Government introduced new digital qualifications to improve the provision of digital skills in the National Curriculum from key stage 1 onwards.

With an estimated 90% of jobs in the next 20 years requiring significant digital knowledge and an estimated 11.3 million adults lacking at least one basic digital skill, it is vital that central and local government and other key stakeholders, including the voluntary, education, social care and private sectors, come together to create innovative schemes to improve the adult digital education and support every person to access the internet. Successful programmes could see ongoing digital revolution flourish and fundamentally changed the way people work, travel, socialise and interact, ensuring no citizen, whatever their background is left behind.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Jack Orlik, Programme Manager – Open Jobs, and Author, Digital Frontrunners: Designing Inclusive Skills Policy for the Digital Age, Nesta (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Session: Setting the Scene and Having Your Voice Heard

The day will begin with a 10 minute interactive session, led by the Chair, in which delegates will be able to ask questions, raise their key concerns and inform the Chair of what they would like to discuss during the course of the day, informing the debate and directing the conversation.


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Government's Strategy to Improve Digital Skills and Promote Inclusion

  • Outlining how the Government’s 2017 Digital Strategy plans to actively reduce digital exclusion by providing all adults who lack basic digital skills with access to digital training and education
  • Exploring the role the Digital Skills Partnership, which brings together public, private and voluntary organisations to improve the digital skills through four delivery groups and six local trailblazers
  • Highlighting the DSP Roadmap, which provides a step by step guide on how to start the process of developing an effective local partnership
  • Analysing the government’s next steps to improve digital skills and tackle exclusions, including creating new digital skills qualifications from August 2020 onwards

Priya Ramdas, Head of Digital Skills and Inclusion Team, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Training Teachers to Deliver Basic Digital Skills Qualifications

  • Reviewing the context of the DfE’s new national standards for essential digital skills (EDS) with a new digital skills offer for adults with no or low skills as part of the new digital entitlement
  • Being commissioned by the DfE to develop and manage the delivery of the CPD programme to help prepare teachers and trainers in England to deliver the EDS entitlement from September 2020
  • Designing the programme based on independent research assessing the skills needs of the workforce that will deliver the new entitlement
  • Exploring how the programme will be rolled out for further education teachers from February 2020, and the intended impact this will have

Vikki Liogier, Head of Learning Technologies, Education Training Foundation (ETF) (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Achieving Digital Inclusion Through Intergenerational Community Programmes

  • Outlining the process of establishing the Digital Learners Community Project, funded by DCMS’ Digital Inclusion Innovation Fund, which seeks to improve the access of older and disabled people to key digital services
  • Examining how Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service joined together with local partners to create ‘smart homes’ and tackle digital exclusion
  • Analysing the impact of utilising young ‘digital boomers’ to train older people in basic digital skills to improve digital inclusion, encourage intergenerational friendships, promote social inclusion and tackle loneliness
  • Reflecting on key lessons throughout the programmes, including using volunteers and embedding partnership working across all programmes

Clive Emmett, Chief Executive, Uttlesford Council for Voluntary Service (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Improving Digital Learning Through Innovate Digital Skill Programmes

Hear how Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership (DSP) implemented their Digital Momentum Program, which aims to bring together key public, private and voluntary sector organisations to provide digital skills training for those most at risk of being excluded.


  • Supported 150 learners by utilising a ‘digital skills escalator’ to trial innovative digital skills education and upskilling programmes across the region
  • Increased access for those with no digital skills to improve their confidence and ability to use key digital services, including accessing key government services now provided virtually
  • £4.5m of workforce development funding released through the ESF Programme: Working with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), the delivery will focus on enhancing and reinforcing digital and advanced engineering skills

Charlotte Collyer, Regional Coordinator, Heart of the South West Digital Skill Partnership (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Effectively Implementing Digital Skills Training Across a Combined Authority

  • Outlining the outcomes of the GMCA’s £3 million pilot project to identify digital skill shortages in the authority and design a targeted approach to improve skills through education and training
  • Highlighting how the authority worked in partnership with the private sector to deliver digital training at Key Stage 3 level, move people into digital roles and support digital inclusion as part of the GM Digital Skills Project
  • Examining how the authority created their £3 million Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund, which allows employers to support disadvantaged communities wanting to develop specialist digital skills to fill key industry shortages
  • Analysing the impact these projects have had on improving digital skills and reducing the social isolation across the workforce, including sharing the key lessons learnt throughout the projects

Phil Swan, Chief Information Officer and Digital Strategy Lead, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA)(invited) 


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Supporting Disadvantaged Groups Across Society Through Digital Education Programmes

  • Outlining the Future Digital Inclusion programme, which has helped over 1 million people improve digital skills in the past 5 years
  • Sharing the successful approach of the Online Centres Network which uses individually tailored programmes to support individuals to improve their skills and confidence
  • Discussing how ‘soft’ digital skills, such as coping with smart technologies, can be better incorporated into support programmes for the hardest-to-reach groups in society
  • Offering advice for education and training providers seeking to deliver basic digital skills qualifications through the Foundation’s online guides, such as How to be a Digital Champion and Doing Digital Inclusion with the Most Excluded

Isobel Thomas, Digital Social Inclusion Manager, Good Things Foundation (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Successfully Building a Robust Digital Skills Partnership

Louise Aitken, Skills Lead, South East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Sessions


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Supporting Older Adults to Develop Basic Digital Skills Through a Local Switch Programme

  • Outlining Dorset County Council’s ‘Switch’ approach to tackling digital skill shortages and exclusion by analysing inclusion schemes already in place to form a clear picture of gaps in provision
  • Highlighting how the Switch programme helps to create a strategy to incorporate organisations capable of promoting digital inclusion through both skill training and other programmes
  • Examining the joint-action plans with local organisations to deliver digital-inclusive services, recruits Digital Champions to access hard to reach groups and promotes digital resilience in the future by funding digital coordination activities
  • Analysing the key lessons learnt throughout the programme on how best to provide support for hard to reach groups and counter digital exclusion

John Fisher, Chief Executive, Citizens Online (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Working in Partnership to Implement Technological Solutions to Tackle Digital Exclusion

Hear how One Digital successfully established schemes to provide physical technological solutions to support training and improve digital inclusion as part of a cross-sector partnership. One Digital is a national partnership of six organisations: Age UK, Affinity Sutton, AbilityNet, Citizens Online, Digital Unite and the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisation


  • Established 3,900 local Digital Champions to teach basic digital skills needed as a prerequisite for many jobs
  • Supported 36,900 local citizens to learn new digital skills by utilising the National Lottery Funding to deliver digital skills training
  • Created funded loan schemes to allow access to key digital technologies for training, improved access to computers for those wanting training to increase attainment and spreading accessible broadband access at affordable cost

Sarah Cant, Programme Director, One Digital Partnership (invited)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Interactive Session: Reviewing the Day

The day will end with a 10-minute interactive session, led by the Chair, in which delegates will discuss their key takeaways, and raise questions for further discussion following the forum.


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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