What Are Digital Foundation Skills and Why Do They Matter?

digital foundation skills

Digital foundation skills are basic IT skills you need for life and work. They include turning on a device, staying safe online and finding websites. Find out more about the basic digital skills the government says you will need for a 21st century world.

The government recently put out a report called the Essential Digital Skills Framework. This outlines useful IT skills for adults in the UK to have for life and work. It includes things like online communication, internet safety and security, and handling financial transactions online. For more detailed information on that, you can check out our recent piece all about the five top digital skills you need for life and work.

As part of the report, the researchers also included a section on “Digital Foundation Skills”. These are the basic skills which underpin the five main skills categories in the report, and everything else we do with computers in our work and home lives every day. Many young people will have learned these basics at a very young age, as most of us in the UK now have computers in our homes and schools. In 2015, the House of Lords recommended that digital skills should be taught in schools as a third core subject, making it as important as numeracy and literacy.

What are the digital basic foundation skills?

  • Turn on a device
  • Use the controls and hardware, including keyboard, mouse, and (if on a mobile device) the touch screen.
  • Use accessibility options on a device. This includes things like changing the screen brightness level and making the text and pictures bigger or smaller.
  • Using a device’s home screen, for example by finding the correct icon to take you to the application or programme that you want.
  • Connecting to the internet via a Wi-Fi connection, including using a password.
  • Opening an internet browser and using the browser to find and open a website.
  • Keeping your passwords and login details safe and secure, and understanding that you should never share them with anyone.

Since you’re reading this article on a website, it’s safe to assume that you can probably do all these basic tasks. If you can’t, don’t worry! Everyone starts somewhere. You can ask a friend or family member to show you the basics, or even enrol on a short computer skills course at your local college.

Digital skills, 21st century jobs and you

  • Nearly every job uses computers in some way
  • Digital skills are important when applying for jobs, too
  • Digital skills can play a big part in your everyday personal life

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to do many jobs in the 21st Century without the digital foundation skills. Businesses now use computers for almost everything. Using IT effectively can make a business more productive, keep it ahead of competitors. Technology can also help a business build relationships with customers (e.g. through email lists, social media and mobile apps). All of this means more money coming into the business. This is good news for the economy and for jobs! Almost every worker you meet in your day to day life, from your teachers to your car mechanic to the person who makes you your coffee, most likely use computers in their work in some way.

Even jobs that are not obviously computer-based, like those in retail or hospitality and catering, are likely to need some IT ability. You might need to operate a digital till system, use a computer to record sales or stock, or even just use a device to clock in and out of work.

Digital skills are even important when it comes to applying for jobs. The days of paper application forms are over. Most recruitment is done online, so if you’re job hunting you’ll probably need to use the internet to search for opportunities or fill in online application forms. There’s no getting away from it: employers want digital skills and success in modern workplaces depends on them.

But digital foundation skills, as well as the five areas of the “essential digital skills,” don’t just matter in your work life. Most of us now use computers to keep in touch with our friends and family, such as by using social media and chatting on messaging apps. How active you want to be on these services is up to you, but knowing how to use them gives you more choices about how to keep in touch with the people who matter to you. Having basic IT skills also means you can use computers to help you with everything from checking the weather forecast to looking up the route before you set out on a trip.

Think about all the things you use computers for in an average day. You might be surprised how much you do! What areas of your IT skills do you think you need to brush up on? It’s worth taking the time – we promise.

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