DfE launches consultation on fully-funded digital skills training

The Department for Education has launched a consultation on the new national standards for digital skills, including plans for new qualifications at two levels.

The consultation sets out the government’s plans to overhaul the current national standards, which set out core digital skills, as well as improving basic digital skills with qualifications at ‘beginner’ and ‘essential’ levels.

All adults without basic digital skills will be able to enrol on the new qualifications free of charge from 2020. Free digital skills training for adults was first announced by the government in October 2016, and became law in April 2017 as part of the Digital Economy Act. Funding for the courses will come from the existing £1.5 billion annual adult education budget.

The consultation document said the publicly funded digital skills courses will be “offered up to and including the ‘essential’ level (level 1)”, but that extending the entitlement to courses at level 2 would be considered “in the longer term.”

Announcing the consultation launch, skills minister Anne Milton warned that one in five people living in the UK do not have “basic digital skills”, and said increasing understanding was a “big challenge to tackle”.

The ‘beginner’ qualification will be designed for adults with little or no prior experience of using digital devices or the internet, and will include basic skills like using a search engine, sending and receiving emails, completing online forms and protecting personal information, and supporting them to use digital devices like tablets, smart phones and laptop.

The ‘essential’ qualification, designed for those with “some experience” but who are “lacking secure digital skills” will include topics like evaluating online content, managing online identity and understanding and exercising rights for controlling the use of personal data.