NRI 2023: The Importance of Ongoing Skill Support for Achieving Digital Participation

December 11, 2023

The Good Things Foundation supports people in the UK with overcoming three critical barriers to digital participation: access, skills, and support. The foundation provides wrap-around support and online courses that cover a range of skills such as how to switch on a device, connect to a network, make an appointment with a doctor, make an online video call and avoid online scams.

The research shows that supporting individuals in becoming digitally included not only helps bridge the existing digital divide but also has broader impacts such as:

  • Increased Happiness: 81% feel more connected with family and friends and 74% feel less lonely
  • Overall Health: 63% reported their mental health improved, 48% their physical health improved, 60% reported they were better able to manage their health or their illness
  • Better Off: 2/3 wanted to continue learning or felt they had better job prospects and 37% of the network felt that the National Databank had helped to ease the financial burden of accessing the internet for the people they support

However, research showed that once someone has access to the online world and a base amount of knowledge, their worries around online safety more than double. According to the Impact Survey conducted on June 23, 2023, before receiving initial skills support, only 15% reported that they had worries about staying safe online. However, after receiving the skills training, the number reached 37%.

Online safety is central to what being ‘digitally included’ means. It is especially important for people with limited exposure to the internet (often older people, and working-age adults with low educational attainment and low incomes) and those in vulnerable situations. Around 6 in 10 UK adults report having had at least one potentially harmful experience online in the past year (Ofcom/ICO 2020). Hence, continued support through online safety courses is key to building confidence throughout the journey to becoming digitally included.

This article is an excerpt from the Network Readiness Index 2023 main chapter, titled “Trust in a Network Society: A crisis of the digital age?” Download the report and read the full chapter at

Good Things Foundation is a non-profit based in the UK, with the objective of making the benefits of digital technology more accessible. It manages the Online Centres Network, the Learn My Way learning platform, and the National Databank.