A message from FutureDotNow CEO, Liz Williams MBE

As we approach the end of the year, I’ve naturally started to get a little reflective (as has the rest of the team, as you’ll see below) whilst getting excited about plans for 2022.

Our friends at Lloyds Banking Group will be kicking off the year in productive style with two vital pieces of work. Already underway is the review of the Essential Digital Skills Framework, on behalf of DfE. The Framework is crucial to how we benchmark and monitor the levels of basic digital skills across the UK, so making sure it’s fit for purpose in our ever changing digital world couldn’t be more important. Find out how you can contribute below. 

Thursday 27 January will see the launch of the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2022, showing the latest levels of digital capability, confidence and ambition for tech adoption in sole traders through to SMEs.  This will provide crucial new data points supporting our mission to improve digital skills in working age adults across the country.  The eagle eyed will appreciate the date clash with our usual monthly FutureDotNow Coalition Meet – we’re forgoing it for Jan in favour of the Lloyds event and hope to see you there (book your place here).

Also, in the newsletter this month, we’ve reflections from coalition member Pearson on changes to level 3 qualifications, and news from Catch 22 and Nominet on new research into the barriers to digital skills and access for young people, including the launch of the Nominet Digital Youth Index – an important resource for anyone working with young people.

It’s wonderful to be able to include the voices of our members in the newsletter, so if you have news or campaigns that you think the FutureDotNow coalition need to hear about, please do let us know – details at the bottom of the newsletter.

Finally, whatever your plans for the holiday season, I hope the next few weeks provide the chance for you to relax and recharge after what’s been another challenging year for us all. 

I look forward to working together in 2022 as we continue to help the UK workforce gain the skills they need to thrive in our digital society.


New members

A huge welcome to our new members:

TechResort

A skills provider working with schools, community groups, businesses, councils, central government and individuals to grow digital skills.

futureproof

a technology training company dedicated to launching and developing the tech superstars of the future. They want to create a world where the best talent, regardless of background, will build the tech of tomorrow. 


Rounding up 2021

2021 has been another significant year for FutureDotNow as we celebrated our second year of action.  The constant challenge of living within a global pandemic is a regular reminder of how critical digital technology is to our lives today and why our mission to equip all working age adults with at least the essential digital skills is so urgent and important.  We’ve made strides this year, we’ve captured a few of the highlights in this 2-minute video. We hope it makes you feel proud.

The team have also been thinking about their personal highlights which they’ve shared on our website here.

Here’s to 2022 and taking further big strides in helping the 11.8m people of working age who are still without the essential digital skills they need to thrive.


How we connect across our coalition

You’ve told us you want more opportunities to connect, both with the FutureDotNow Team and other members so you can learn from each other, share approaches and take action at greater pace. As a result, building a sense of community and creating opportunities for collaboration is a priority in the year ahead.  

We’ve already started to test some new ways of working and have more planned for year ahead.

  • Member socials.  We ran two new ‘social’ member meets in December.  In small groups members shared their progress to date, plans for the future, including their sticking points and how others could help.  We’d had some great feedback, so we’ll be doing more of these informal sessions in 2022.
  • Slack channel.  At the Autumn event, you suggested that a Slack channel for the coalition would be a good way of connecting.  We heard you, we’re looking into it and will be back in touch soon with an update.
  • Keeping in Touch Sessions (KITs).  We had a great series of conversations with you individually over the summer as part of our member listening exercise.  You told us that these sessions were helpful to you and that you’d like to do them regularly.  Starting in January, we will be contacting you more frequently. A member of the FutureDotNow team will meet with you once a quarter to check in, offer some time to reflect on what you’ve been working on, what you’ve learnt and where you might need help from others.
  • Community project.  Also, in January we’re launching a project to co-create the coalition’s approach to community and collaboration.  We’ll be asking you what you need within a more formal service design process and exploring what tools and approaches might work best in response.  We need a number of coalition members to volunteer to take an active role (light touch!) if you’d like to know more, email our Membership Manager, Paul.

And if you have any further ideas, we’d welcome hearing them. Get in touch at [email protected]


EDS Framework Review – have your say!

Author: Jemma Waters, Head of Responsible Transformation, Lloyds Banking Group and FutureDotNow Board Member

Earlier this year, Lloyds Bank published the third annual Essential Digital Skills report, the UK’s digital skills benchmark, measuring the basic tasks needed to access the online world, and the essential digital skills needed for life and work.

At FutureDotNow our mission is to bring together organisations to motivate people and businesses across the UK to boost their digital skills, and the EDS Framework and report provides us with a benchmark on which to measure that change. Since the Framework launched in 2018, there has been significant change, particularly in Essential Digital Skills for Work, where 5.6million more working adults now have the digital skills needed in the workplace.  

We have now reached a point in time where it’s important to ensure the Framework is still reflective of everyday needs of life and work in the UK. That’s why Lloyds Bank and Department for Education are seeking your views on the Framework. It’s time to have your say, and share your feedback on the current structure, it’s efficacy and any amendments you would like to see explored.  

Complete the survey here 


News from our membership

We aim to keep you up to date with the broader essential digital skills discussion, and the work our members are doing to make a difference.  This month we hear from two of our member organisations Nominet (in partnership with Catch22) and Pearson, who both address the barriers young people face in gaining essential digital skills. Back in July we hosted our own discussion on the topic, with the support of Catch22 and Movement to Work. If you missed it, watch the replay on our YouTube channel.  

Digital Disadvantage – Barriers to digital skills and access Amy O’Donnell, Senior Programme Manager, Nominet

Catch22, Bean Research and Nominet have launched the first of four insight papers exploring the barriers to digital skills and access for some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK. Released at the end of November 2021, the first paper sets the scene by highlighting the exciting opportunities presented from the growing digital economy and the substantial barriers disadvantaged communities face in accessing these opportunities.

As highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, access to digital devices and skills has become more crucial than ever for young people entering the job market, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.  The Nominet Digital Youth Index found that tech jobs are least appealing to those most impacted by inadequate tech. This research begins to build a common language to underpin strategies to attract more diverse talent into digital careers – something which is fundamental to realising a vibrant and representative digital economy.

Read more about the series on the Catch 22 blog here

Future Talent Pipeline – proposed changes to level 3 qualifications  Ellyn Duggan, Bids and Partnerships Manager, Pearson 

Earlier this year the Government carried out a review of its Level 3 education offering. The resulting proposals limit choice for students to A levels or T levels and could put at risk a number of BTECs and Applied General qualifications for being funded by the DfE in schools and colleges. Pearson strongly believe that excluding BTECs from the choices open to students will impact access into higher education, halt the rate of social mobility and stunt diversity in the future talent pipeline.

As technology develops, so do the roles and responsibilities required for the future workforce across sectors. BTECs ensure learners gain the fundamental knowledge and skills they need to work in an ever-dynamic landscape.

Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education, recently announced that there would be a one-year extension to the proposed reform. Whilst Pearson welcome this extension, we believe BTEC Level 3 Nationals and other Applied General qualifications need to be made available longer-term, so students can continue to have a choice to access these extremely valuable courses.  

Pearson would welcome FutureDotNow members joining us in support of the #ProtectStudentChoice campaign to ensure learners can continue to choose the course that is right for them, by signing the petition here.  For more information, and other ways to support the campaign, please visit https://www.pearson.com/uk/campaigns/level-3-review.html


Keep the conversation going

This is your coalition and we want to make sure that you are getting the most out of it.

Do you have some insight, lessons learned that you think others in the coalition would benefit from? We’re always keen to showcase what our members are doing on their EDS journey. Please get in touch on the email below to feature in upcoming newsletters.

Don’t forget to follow us and share our content on Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback please do send it to [email protected] and we will get back to you.


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