Everything is digital these days - or at least it certainly feels like that sometimes!
With ‘digital by default’ being the norm for new government services, there’s more need than ever for people to get online. But not everyone is able to take advantage of the benefits digital can bring. Currently, 12.6m people or 23% of UK adults lack the basic digital skills and capability to make the most of the internet. An ONS survey in 2015 showed that 14% of households in Great Britain had no internet access. There were a number of barriers to this including a lack of skills and high costs for access and equipment.
We know that libraries already provide people with help to access information and services online. Whether it’s applying for jobs, setting up email accounts, accessing health or financial information or help with benefits applications. People rely on this service. To support this, and as part of their Universal Information Offer, the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) have provided training for 14,000 (or 80%) of public library staff to improve their digital skills.
Digital Training and Support Framework
Government recognises that not everyone who uses government services is online, and that not everyone will be able to use digital services independently. To help address these problems and overcome barriers, the Government Digital Service in the Cabinet Office set up the Digital Training and Support Framework. Publicly funded organisations are now able to procure more promptly vital assisted digital support and digital inclusion/engagement services from a list of qualified suppliers.
The framework has 5 lots:
- Support to use government digital services
- Digital inclusion research and analysis
- Design of a digital inclusion course, product or intervention
- Delivery of digital inclusion/basic digital skills training
- Digital inclusion marketing and promotion
On 25 May 2016, it was announced that SCL were successful in being awarded a contract to supply services as one of the approved suppliers on the Framework, specifically for lots 1 and 4.
What does this mean for libraries?
Not only does it build on the strength of libraries as a provider of trusted advice and support, but being on the Framework enables libraries to compete for contracts, offering a new source of income if successful. The need for libraries to diversify their funding and create a more sustainable service was something which came across strongly in our Ambition consultation, so this is a great step along that road.
This success is the result of a lot of hard work by a large number of people, so big congratulations to everyone in SCL and others who made this happen.