Digital welfare (IV): transformation through technology

18 November 2016

Universal Credit could be a game-changer for claimants. Less time waiting in JobCentre Plus, more time to gain skills or find work. There are very few jobs that you can do – let alone apply for – these days without at least basic digital skills, particularly when it comes to secure, regular employment. It makes sense then, that ‘digital by default’ is a central principle of Universal Credit.

There are 12.6 million people in the UK without basic digital skills. Low digital literacy is closely linked to socioeconomic background – the poorer you are the less likely you are to be able to use a computer, tablet or smartphone. You’re also more likely to be disabled, have fewer educational qualifications and be older. But there’s also a growing cohort of young people who might spend half their day glued to their phone on Snapchat, but wouldn’t know where to start if you showed them a keyboard and mouse. It’s very difficult to write a good CV on a smartphone.

Tinder Foundation has helped 89,000 jobseekers in the past alone. Too often, people come to one of our Online Centres having being given an email address and told to get on with it. That’s a recipe for frustration and disillusionment. We help those people become confident digital users through our learning platform, Learn My Way, and with face-to-face support. This includes building CVs, using Universal Jobmatch and sending emails with attachments.

We’re specialists in user-centred design and have the unique challenge of designing digital courses for people who have often never really been online before. It’s great that the same approach is being taken with Universal Credit digital services.

Getting as many claimants as possible to shift channels from face-to-face and phone to digital is a worthy goal – not only will people be able to access government services in the most efficient and responsive way, but they’re taking the first steps towards the myriad of other ways that digital can improve people’s lives, from staying in touch with friends and family to online banking, and learning new skills through online courses.

Bea Karol Burks, Director of Delivery, Tinder Foundation

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