7.2 Digital inclusion
In Wales 7% of adults are not online; these are likely to be older adults, those with health conditions, lower educational attainment, low incomes, people in rural areas, and those whose first language is Welsh and do not speak English. (Source: Digital Communities Wales [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] )
The Future Generations Act has continually focused on the need to build digital infrastructure and capabilities recognising the role of technical change and the impact on people, and the skills that will need to be developed to adapt to changes driven by technology, and to narrow the digital divide.
Research by Cardiff Business School on creating skills fit for the future has outlined several drivers of change, including:
- A significant proportion of tasks and jobs will be subject to continuous restructuring as a result of technological change. Repetitive and process-based tasks and jobs are at greatest risk, especially ‘white collar’ roles.
- Service delivery will be increasingly reliant on ‘the cloud’, which will be potentially mediated by a small number of global platforms. Most people will expect digital provision of/access to their public services to match private services.
- One potential outcome of automation is far less human involvement in economic production and distribution.
- Creativity and problem solving in complex contexts will remain human advantages for some considerable time, and therefore, will be increasingly valuable skills.
- Increased technology may disadvantage already economically deprived places and may have strong gender implications, including a potential ‘care crisis’.
(Source: Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Slide 9 – A journey to a prosperous Wales. 5: Skills for the future)
HEIs play an important part in the long-term prevention of digital exclusion, and narrowing the digital divide both in terms of how the curriculum they offer students has a range of appropriate courses for specialist areas, and also how digital capability building is embedded throughout out all student activities. How HEIs engage with the wider community – through collaboration, research and partnership – also needs to be considered.
As we come out of the pandemic and organisations plan for the future, they need to consider what is being referred to as the Fourth Industrial revolution, which is driven by the advancements in artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, and greater automation within the workplace. The developments in this area potentially will lead to greater digital exclusion, and a skills gap.
Activity 22: Planning for inclusion and developing capabilities
Watch the video in which contributors share their insights about digital inclusion, and how to narrow the digital divide.
Then take some time to browse the following resources. Make notes of key points for further considerations to research outside of this course.
Reflecting on the resources above, and activities throughout this course, what do you feel will be the main challenges for organisations and HEIs to plan for inclusion and developing capabilities?