One in nine (11%) people in London were unable to use the internet by themselves prior to lockdown, lacking the basic skills required to communicate, shop or bank online, the latest Lloyds Bank Consumer Digital Index (CDI) has revealed.
Technology is now a necessity for keeping connected, working remotely and accessing vital information. Research1 carried out before the introduction of lockdown restrictions showed that one in six (18%) of those surveyed in London lacked the digital skills needed for everyday life2, with 7% of people unable to connect a device to a Wi-Fi network, or able to turn on a device and log into accounts or profiles they have.
However, in a separate poll3 carried out after lockdown measures were introduced, more than a third (35%) of people said they have now taken action to boost their digital skills for work, health and well-being during the crisis.
Ed Thurman, Lloyds Banking Group Ambassador for London, said, “Digital skills may be second nature for many, but this research confirms that for some people living in the capital it’s simply not the case. During lockdown many of us have experienced challenges with technology, but a lack of digital skills can make it even more difficult to manage. What is encouraging is that instead of being defeated people are choosing to take action to improve these skills, which will clearly be of great benefit to them throughout lockdown and beyond.
“The Mayor’s Digital Talent programme, a brilliant scheme helping to ensure young Londoners have the digital skills employers want, is just one example of the great initiatives and support on offer to people wanting to learn new skills. Our own Lloyds Bank Academy will also continue to run virtual workshops to help address the skills gap too.”
Even before lockdown, people in London with high levels of digital engagement recognised the benefits of these skills, with almost nine in ten (87%) saying it helps them stay connected to friends and family, nearly two thirds (64%) say it improved their ability to get a job, and four in ten (43%) reporting it helps manage and improve their physical and mental health.
Learning new skills in lockdown
In the last few weeks of UK lockdown, three quarters (77%) of people surveyed in London believe that the situation has escalated the need to be online and eight out of 10 people (80%) have felt that technology has been a vital support during the outbreak.
More than one in three (35%) across London have taken action and boosted their digital skills, with more a third (33%) reporting they have learned new skills for work reasons, while four in ten (39%) are using technology more than usual to help with health and wellbeing.
Of those in London who have improved their skills, almost two thirds (61%) are self-taught, more than a quarter (26%) are relying on friends and just under a quarter (22%) are calling upon family members for support.
More than one in three (34%) in London have also helped other people improve their digital skills during this period. Staying in touch with others is the most popular reason to ask for help, with almost two thirds (61%) of people helping their family members to use apps such as Zoom or WhatsApp. This is followed by banking and shopping cited by more than a quarter (28%) of respondents.
Encouragingly, more than six in ten (63%) of people in London want to continue to boost their skills beyond the current climate, with one in five (21%) having used the time at home to do online learning to improve digital skills.
Stephen Noakes, Managing Director, Retail Transformation, Lloyds Bank, 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 of 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. We and many others have responded to this with extra support, including free training through our Academy, but more needs to be done to close the digital divide.”
Helping to address the digital divide
The latest Consumer Digital Index also shows that without any intervention, by 2030, a quarter of the UK will still have a very low level of digital engagement.