In order to address regional digital skills gaps, my department is supporting a Local Digital Skills Partnerships in the West Midlands Combined Authority areas, which brings together cross-sector regional and national partners to work collaboratively to upskill the current workforce, advance digital inclusion, and build thriving regional economies.
Public libraries are also a vital component in tackling digital exclusion. A priority of Coventry Libraries is to create improved access to digital services and increase the digital literacy skills of local residents. During 2019 to 2020 Coventry Libraries in the North East of the City have provided over 70,000 hours and over 100,000 sessions of access to public computers and Wi-Fi services. While reduced service has been provided during 2020, due to COVID 19, they are continuing with plans to increase access to public PCs, install new computers at both Bell Green and Foleshill Libraries and reintroduce computer help sessions, job clubs and benefits, debt and housing advice sessions.
The Government has also introduced new essential digital skills qualifications (EDSQs) based on new national standards for essential digital skills.(opens in a new tab) Adults with no or low digital skills can study essential digital skills qualifications for free.