Digital Technology: Older People

Department for Education written question – answered at on 13 May 2024.

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Photo of Mark Menzies Mark Menzies Independent, Fylde

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help improve the digital skills of older people.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Minister of State (Education)

The government recognises that digital skills are important for adults of all ages, and the department is committed to improving their level of digital skills to support active participation in society.

From August 2020, the department introduced a digital entitlement for adults with no or low digital skills to undertake specified digital qualifications free of charge. The new entitlement mirrors the existing legal entitlements for English and mathematics. This puts essential digital skills on an equal footing in the adult education system, as the third essential skill adults need for work, life and further learning.

The department introduced new Essential Digital Skills qualifications (EDSQs) at entry level and level 1 from August 2020, funded under the digital entitlement. EDSQs are based on the national standards for essential digital skills and are designed to meet the diverse needs of adults with no or low digital skills, reflecting different learning needs, motivations and starting points.

To further enhance the essential digital skills offer for adults, from August 2023, the department introduced new digital Functional Skills qualifications (FSQs), which have replaced FSQs in Information and Communication Technology. Digital FSQs have standardised content and assessment, providing a benchmark of digital skills for employers. These are based on subject content for digital FSQs the department published in October 2021.

The government recognises that formal qualifications are not necessary for everyone. That is why the department also fund community learning and other non-regulated learning, such as building confidence in essential digital skills, through the Adult Education Budget. Many local authorities and other further education providers are already delivering these courses that help equip adults with the essential digital skills they need for work, life and further learning.

Of course, older people may also be looking to progress beyond essential digital skills, potentially through a desire to retrain or upskill. Through the department’s wider skills reforms, the department is continuing to ensure learners, whatever their age, can train, retrain and upskill towards better jobs, better wellbeing and better options for the future.

More information about essential digital skills and other government funded training opportunities can be found here: https://www.skillsforcareers.education.gov.uk/pages/skills-for-life.

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