Searching for a new job can often be a daunting task. Wading through job ads, creating a CV and completing application forms is out of many people’s comfort zone.
But imagine how much more difficult this process is for people who do not know how to use a computer, have no internet access or struggle to pay for the data required for online training or a virtual job interview.
According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures from 2018, almost one-in-10 people (4.3 million) were estimated to have no basic digital skills.
There is a digital divide between those with access to information and communications technology and those without.
Simon Mahony, Digital Transformation Director at Maximus UK, discusses how our delivery of the Restart Scheme is helping people learn digital skills, so they can secure employment.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has identified just how important it is to have access to technology to stay connected to the world. People who are ‘digitally excluded’ and don’t have access to the internet (or don’t feel confident using a computer) can feel cut off from society.
This can seriously impact their life decisions, mental and physical health and overall financial success and wellbeing.
If people aren’t sure how to search of a new job online, or don’t have access to a computer or the internet, it can drastically lower their chances of finding work.
This stretches far beyond exclusion from roles requiring digital know-how. Most vacancy listings and applications are online, and potential employers can also be discouraged from employing someone with few digital skills.
Digital skills are therefore important. Not just for looking for a job, but also to increase the likelihood of an individual securing a job.
We took an early decision to place digital inclusion at the heart of our delivery of the new Restart Scheme.
Maximus delivers the scheme, which provides enhanced support to long-term unemployed people, across South and West Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and South and East London.
We’ve dedicated nearly £1 million to specifically identify people needing support with digital skills, and to provide them with the right level of help.
This takes many forms, from one-to-one support with digital inclusion specialists to financial support to cover the cost of equipment and data, which we know are vital to a successful job search.
People on the Restart Scheme will be assessed for digital literacy during the initial stages of our engagement with them, so that we can build in support from the start, if needed. Our Advisers and Employment Coaches will be on hand to guide participants through digital tools. For example, our employment support hub and online application forms.
We’ll also host training sessions on things like how to create a document and how to search online.
Working with our community partners, we will offer digital training qualifications to those with specific skills gaps. In addition, anyone without access to the internet will be given a smartphone and data and receive help to get them set up online.
We’re still in the early stages of our delivery of the Restart Scheme, but I’m excited to see the results of this type of digital support.
Long-term unemployment and digital exclusion and poverty are among the greatest social challenges we face as a country as we look to recover from the pandemic.
The steps we’re taking will make a real difference to the people we’re working with. And, given the scale of the Restart Scheme, should help to address the digital skills gap in the local communities we’re operating in.”
Find out more about the Restart Scheme here: https://maximus.restart.uk/