Working with 12 delivery partners, Nominet Trust is supporting six pilot projects in the United Kingdom (UK) to test a range of new models to meaningfully improve the digital skills, confidence, and resilience of young people aged 15-24 who lack basic digital skills. Nominet Trust research conducted in early 2017 found that these young people are also the most likely to be facing multiple forms of disadvantage that make them among the hardest to reach.

Communication Strategies: 

Launched in June 2017, this evidence-based programme aims to engage 4,000 young people through three key design components:

  1. Leveraging the expertise of youth organisations that have trusted one-on-one relationships with young people to lead on digital skills provision and to incorporate it into the delivery of their existing services.
  2. Piloting a variety of models with a consortium of expert youth organisations to understand which approaches are most effective in overcoming the factors inhibiting digital skills acquisition.
  3. Exploring how digital skills can be embedded in the acquisition of other skills, including literacy, numeracy, and social skills, rather than being taught as a standalone subject.

Over a nine-month period, the following organisations will be working on the following pilots, in association with Nominet:

  • Action for Children (ACF) will digitise their current paper-based content across three employability programmes in severely deprived urban areas in Scotland. Supporting some of the hardest-to-reach young people in the area, the pilot will aim to enable them to complete their qualifications online and ensure they develop the capability and confidence to use the internet to look for jobs and complete pre-employability training.
  • Carers Trust will work with Good Things Foundation to develop an e-learning resource for young adult carers as an extension to Learn My Way (a tool for digital skills delivered through libraries and community organisations). The website contains over 30 free courses designed to help beginners get started with the online basics - using a mouse, keyboard, setting up email accounts and using internet search engines - while also offering material to help people develop their digital skills further. Eight Carers Trust Network Partners will use the resource to help young adult carers gain the basic digital skills they need to achieve their aspirations.
  • Home-Start and #techmums will collaborate to help 500 young mothers acquire basic digital skills to overcome the challenges they face in their daily lives.
  • The Children's Society and City & Guilds Group will engage 550 young people across the Midlands and the North of England by helping them to improve their digital skills through accredited course development.
  • UK Youth will create Digital Hubs in 10 member organisations, training a youth worker and three young people to become Digital Champions. They will then work with referral and outreach partners to support the most isolated young people that are engaged with the Digital Hubs.
  • Wales Co-Operative Centre will work with YMCA Swansea, Llamau, and GISDA to engage 375 of the "hardest to reach" young people across Wales through a series of workshops and by incorporating digital literacy into existing life skills programmes.

To deliver shareable insights about social impact, evaluation is an integral part of Digital Reach. Nominet Trust is working with Dr. Ellen Helsper, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science and digital engagement expert, to develop an evaluation framework and validate key findings.

Development Issues: 

Technology, Youth

Key Points: 

The Basic Digital Skills UK 2017 report suggests that, despite an overall increase in the number of UK adults who have gained basic digital skills, at least 3% (300,000) of those aged 15-24 are still left behind. The research identified three key barriers to developing basic digital skills:

  • Personal skills barriers: Factors such as poor literacy and numeracy can prevent young people from using digital technology for formal communications such as job applications.
  • Cicumstantial barriers: Household poverty and poor credit ratings can deny access to home broadband; long-term family health conditions can mean peer and formal support to use technology are not readily accessible.
  • Systemic barriers: Young people living in households with intergenerational unemployment can lack motivation to develop digital skills through formal training programmes.

Nominet Trust research also found that these barriers are intensified by disruption to the lives of young people including experience of the care and criminal justice system, moving home, family breakups, and addiction or violence in the household.


Slimline C4D Network Twitter Trawl: 3 - 9 July 2017; "DIGITAL REACH: Digital skills for the hardest-to-reach young people" [PDF]; and "Nominet Trust is investing in the digital future of the disadvantaged youth", by Derek du Preez, diginomica, July 10 2017 - all accessed on July 10 2017. Image credit: Better Internet for Kids