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November 08, 2012

Some 16 Million People in United Kingdom Can't Complete Basic Online Skills

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

Britain is the land of Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer. But now an estimated 16 million people in the United Kingdom can’t even complete basic online skills, according to a new study.

The report, conducted by Booz & Company, for Go ON (News - Alert) UK, considered basic online skills to be such things as accessing information from online sources, completing online job applications, sending and receiving e-mails and using a search engine, The BBC reported.

Go ON UK is a not-for-profit led by Martha Lane Fox, and is committed to improving the nation’s digital skills.

"We need to make the country fit for purpose through the next decade and ensure everyone and every organization has basic digital literacy," Lane Fox said in a statement.

Image via Shutterstock

Several companies recently announced that they will train employees in the basic online skills. This pledge comes after the study showed that only one third of small- and medium-sized UK companies have “a digital presence and only 14 percent sell their products and services online,” The BBC said.

That is lost business opportunities for the nation.

"It is shocking that 16 million people don't have basic skills and there is a lot of work going on to encourage people to use the internet," Annika Small, CEO of the Nominet Trust, said. "Once people have found something relevant to them online and have discovered the power of the internet, their skills become quite sophisticated.”

It was also shown that 7.82 million adults in the United Kingdom, some 16 percent of the population, never used the Internet, The BBC reported, citing government data.

Many of these individuals are from poor households.

The basic skills identified in the survey include many common Internet activities, Go ON UK said. For instance, sending and receiving e-mails; using a search engine; browsing the Internet; filling out an online application form – for a job, to make a purchase, to access a government service, or to register on a social website; identifying and deleting spam; selecting trustworthy websites; and setting privacy settings.

The problem is far from limited to the United Kingdom.

Overall, there were 2.3 billion Internet users worldwide at the end of 2011, TMCnet reported, citing data from the United Nations. But only a quarter of individuals in the developing world were online at the end of 2011, TMCnet added.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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