We want Scottish citizens to be creative, confident, and feel included and skilled for life in a modern, digital world. What are the key actions that should be taken forward, and by whom, to achieve delivery of this objective?

Why the contribution is important

Scotland has made significant progress in promoting digital participation in the past few years and now enjoys the highest level of basic digital skills of any of the four nations.  More than 80 per cent of Scots make use of the internet. However, there remains a significant challenge in terms of digital inclusion, particularly amongst older people and those living in deprived areas. 

by ScottishGovernment on November 03, 2016 at 12:20PM

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  • Posted by HoraceWimp November 15, 2016 at 21:59

    There are two aspects missing above.

    Barriers to digital inclusion also include geography, when parts of Scotland have no digital connection or ineffective connections, due to lack of infrastructure.

    Also, participation in community and public bodies becomes increasingly limited for some, where approaches are based on "Digital by Default". A reliance on digital communication creates a two-tier population and excludes otherwise skilled and effective candidates.
  • Posted by LukeRadford November 21, 2016 at 14:29

    As we see the rise of robotics and artificial intelligence there is an emerging culture of fear that needs to be challenged. Jobs that are done by humans today will be automated. This has happened in every previous industrial revolution and yet people continue to be employed. Education should focus on giving people the skills they need to respond to change and empower people to be part of the change and not just fear it.

    Conversations on the future workforce are often framed around fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). As a result there is resistance to change and engagement drops. Focussing on the positives and the opportunity creates the impetus to develop the skills for the future.

    One of the greatest changes that Scotland could make is to shift the conversation from one of fear to one of opportunity.
  • Posted by ScotGovDigitalFraser November 23, 2016 at 13:59

    Thanks for the feedback @HoraceWimp

    Infrastructure/connectivity certainly can be a barrier to participation. Recent research suggests that geographic location alone (urban v rural) does not have a relationship to someone being digitally included or excluded. Those groups who are digitally excluded tend to be the same groups who find themselves socially or financially excluded. Living in an area of multiple deprivation is not of itself an indicator of digital exclusion.

    You raise a good point around "Digital by Default" the Scottish Government are developing Assisted Digital Guidance to ensure that those who cannot/choose not to use digital still have the opportunity to access the benefits that digital can bring.
  • Posted by Gail_CarnegieUK December 14, 2016 at 13:16

    Digital – and therefore social - inequalities cannot be bridged through the provision of infrastructure alone. The digital revolution should provide an opportunity for us to tackle inequality by providing greatly improved access to services, new educational and employment opportunities, new channels for democratic and civic participation and opportunities for significant financial savings. However, those who are most likely to be excluded according to many social and economic measures are also least likely to take-up digital technology. As a result, digital is currently at risk of further exacerbating existing, deep-rooted inequalities in our society. Indeed, the extent of the correlation between digital and social exclusion is such that lack of internet access may be seen as both a symptom and a perpetuating cause of poverty. Analysis carried out for the Carnegie UK Trust by Ipsos MORI looking at the Scottish Household Survey found that working status, qualification levels and age are the key predictors of whether or not someone is digitally excluded, with housing tenure and income also important drivers. Moreover, those who don’t have the internet are less likely to have a car; to have been on a flight in the past year; to participate in sport; to go to the cinema, a library or live music; to read, dance, sing or play a musical instrument; to volunteer; to use council services; or take part in outdoor leisure or recreation at least once a week. Meanwhile, those with less active lifestyles, poorer mental health and those who feel less socially connected to their local area are more likely to be offline than their peers even after all other factors are controlled for.

    All organisations with an interest in tackling disadvantage, alleviating poverty and improving the wellbeing of Scotland’s citizens are likely to have a role to play in recognising and delivering digital participation as a key pillar of social justice in the 21st century. To date, responses to digital participation across different sectors have often treated the issue as a standalone programme or delivery silo. There is an urgent need for decision makers to consider how they can embed digital skills and participation horizontally across policy development. Policies, programmes and initiatives can be ‘digital-proofed’ to assess to what extent they impact on those who are not connected and what opportunities exist to help those who are online to get access and build their digital skills.

    Link to our Digital and Social Exclusion research:[…]/

    - Gail Irvine, Policy Officer, Carnegie UK Trust
  • Posted by jamiegreeneUK December 14, 2016 at 14:00

    In the Scottish Parliament we often debate the future of Scotland’s digital economy in terms of national targets for connectivity and digital infrastructure, like broadband roll-out or 4G mobile coverage, but we have to remember that the roll-out of high-speed internet is not the same as achieving digital participation.

    The Royal Society of Edinburgh pointed out in their 2014 digital participation report that, whilst investment has been forthcoming and roll-out targets are all well and good, they “leave the door open for existing inequalities to go unaddressed”, such as a lack of affordable internet, a lack of household devices to make use of it, or a lack of basic digital skills to use either. Regardless of whether broadband is available in their area or not, pupils at the 17% of Scottish schools without a specialist Computing teacher, for example, are already at a disadvantage when it comes to digital participation.

    As we increasingly rely on online services to fill out our tax returns, stream entertainment, choose a cheaper energy supplier or order our shopping, the people left behind are limited to slower and often more expensive alternatives. According to a 2014 Centre for Economics and Business Research report on the consumer costs of no internet access, people without access to the internet miss out on hundreds of pounds in potential savings every year, something which disproportionately affects the elderly.

    This is an area where a combination of investment, education, intergenerational dialogue, community organisation and social entrepreneurship could go a long way to improving the situation for the many Scots still unable to participate in the Digital Economy. For example, providing opportunities for school pupils to teach tablet skills in their local care home, ensuring that broadband and 4G “not-spots” in cities, towns and rural areas are no longer neglected, or incentivising tech start-ups to consider setting-up in deprived areas by proving low-rent office and collaboration spaces.

    The SCVO, for example, is doing excellent work in this field funded by the Scottish Government. However, there is no joined up approach to digital participation in Scotland. Responsibility for making Scotland a Digital Nation lies across so many portfolios and ministerial roles that there seems to be no over-arching oversight. I have long argued that there should be a single focal point for pulling together the various aspects of digital participation, connectivity, infrastructure, e-government and access, skills, R&D and financial strategy and investment when it comes to the digital economy in Scotland. I hope this school of thought will be welcomed and I would be very happy to, in an apolitical fashion, share my thoughts with the Scottish Government on this matter.

    - Jamie Greene MSP
    Scottish Conservative Spokesman for Technology, Connectivity and the Digital Economy
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