In partnership with the Local Enterprise Partnership in Cornwall

Gathering insights around digital skills

Summary

There’s been little focus on how citizens who are unemployed or economically inactive are being affected by the new digital shift.

Problem

Whilst there’s established evidence to show that links exist between employment status and health, with unemployment being associated with poorer health, less is known about the associations between economic inactivity and health.

Literature on digital exclusion shows strong predictors of internet access and use: age, education, and disability. However, these studies were not conducted within the context of a UK-wide change in how care / public service is delivered.

Our brief was to (1) Deliver and iterate a quick digital skills intervention to provide individuals with access to kit (iPad) and bitesize digital skills training through Influencer networks (2) Gather qualitative insights to inform future intervention decisions (3) Feedback insights to the Local Enterprise Partnership and Department of Culture Media and Sport who fund Local Digital Skills partnerships across the county, who are tasked with driving take-up of the Essential Digital Skills entitlement.

The target groups for the were those who were economically inactive / unemployed people in Cornwall. NEET (not in education employment and training). We worked with a range of Community Influencers, including social prescribers, community workers, job coaches and youth workers.

Solution

Healthwave partnered with Barclays Digital Eagles to design and provide a tech and digital skills intervention that address some of the key frictions for individuals looking to seek and secure employment.

Healthwave and the Digital Skills Partnership worked closely with Cornwall Council Digital Inclusion team to explore ways to support some of the most vulnerable families in Cornwall to access services remotely. We trained trusted members of the community who identified individuals or groups of people (both young and old) who would benefit greatly from better digital skills.

During this project, we surfaced a need for a turnkey approach to digital inclusion, encompassing skills, kit, connectivity and incentives. Our research study sampled a group of unemployed people in Cornwall, made an intervention (kit and training) and then gathered data again, using an iterative cycle. By working in this way we were able to uncover some huge assumptions around strategic and spending decisions. One of the more striking findings was that the so called ‘digital native’ group of younger adults were generally unable to google search or send emails - but they were superb Snapchatters. This confirmed that the 'digital native' meme is a potential barrier to sound strategy and also directs decision makers to consider how digital skills programs are targeted.

So far this project has helped people access employment, health and wellbeing, general digital skills and much more. We helped our partners access communities better than ever, with support to understand how to tailor digital skills training to have the most impact.

The project has now developed a number of exciting local and national partnerships and plans are in place for an ambitious digital champions programme, with a focus on skills, kit and connectivity. This, and many of our other digital inclusion projects are helping bridge the ever-expanding digital divide.