MAGAZINE: New digital skills workshops offered to tackle digital gap in Sussex

Argos has pledged to provide practical skills, access and technology to some of the 9.5 million Brits, including thousands in Sussex, who are still not online.

This is part of its commitment as a board member of digital skills charity Go ON UK.

Digital workshops.

Digital workshops.

Specially-trained store colleagues will help participants learn the basics of how to use a tablet, connect to and surf the internet, use a search engine, set up email, stay safe online and more. The workshops will run from October 25 through to mid-January, in 120 communities across the UK.

Research released earlier this year from OFCOM shows the number of adults using tablets specifically to go online almost doubled year on year from 24% to 44%*. Whilst almost all age groups are more likely to use these handy, portable devices those in older age groups find them particularly accessible, with use by those aged 35-64 doubling and 65-74 trebling from 5% to 17%.

The increase has been attributed in part to the rise of technology use for intergenerational communication within families, using Skype for example.

From the end of the month Argos Internet Workshops will kick off in stores around the UK. Up to 10,000 people will be given training and a tablet to help them communicate, connect and develop the digital skills needed to feel confident online.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Argos said: “The digital revolution continues apace, however millions remain on the digital outskirts. Argos Internet Workshops have been developed to help people overcome the barriers of access and affordability and bring them online. Improving digital skills will help build people’s knowledge, understanding and confidence in digital technology. Our customers tell us they want help and in response we are giving away 10,000 tablets to those who most need them.”

According to research by the BBC into media literacy 1 in 4 people are uncomfortable with technology and 1 in 5 state they simply don’t know how to use it. Nearly 1 in 5 said they didn’t like to try new things on the internet because of worries they would do something wrong.

Baroness Lane-Fox, Chair of digital skills charity Go ON UK said: “As many areas of everyday life become ‘digital by default’ with a number of government and business services becoming accessible only online we need to ensure that everyone has the digital skills needed to participate in our evolving digital age.

Access, affordability and skills have all been cited as key barriers to bringing people online and this fantastic initiative from Argos is exactly the type of programme we need to help people become more confident with technology.”

Internet Workshops will start at the end of the month. Following the workshop, participants will:

Know how to get online and access at least one website

Create an e-mail account

Understand how to use apps

Know how to stay safe online

Know where to go for further support

Helen Milner, Chief Executive of Tinder Foundation said: “With 9.5m people in the U.K without basic online skills, it is fantastic to see such a commitment from Argos to supporting people to improve their skills during Get Online Week. These events are just some of the thousands happening within communities all over the country where people can find ongoing support to improve their digital skills.”