Lack of digital skills is costing UK workers £5.7 billion and the economy £12.8 billion, according to economic modelling for Virgin Media O2 by Cebr. The research shows more than 5 million people in the UK cannot carry out simple online tasks like sending emails or using the internet.

In response, VMO2 and digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation are running hundreds of free sessions across the UK to help people improve their digital skills during ‘Get Online Week’ (17-23 October). Virgin Media O2’s support of Get Online Week is part of the company’s three-year partnership with Good Things Foundation, during which it has donated £2 million to help people across the UK to get online and gain vital digital skills.

Nicola Green from Virgin Media O2 said: “With the cost-of-living crisis deepening and Brits facing rising bills, it’s more important than ever that people can gain vital digital skills, so they can apply for better paid jobs and increase their incomes, while boosting the UK’s economy by almost £13 billion.

“Together with Good Things Foundation, we’re hosting free digital skills masterclasses in community centres across the UK to improve the nation’s digital skills, as part of Get Online Week.

“It’s part of our ambition to upgrade the UK, where we’re committed to improving the digital skills and confidence of two million people by the end of 2025.”

The sessions are designed to help people learn how to use the internet to carry out essential tasks such as word processing, emailing, and accessing online services including booking medical appointments, managing money online, applying for jobs, taking part in virtual interviews, or accessing online education or training programmes.

This builds on VMO2 and Good Things Foundation’s pioneering National Databank Initiative which launched in July 2021 to provide free mobile data, texts, and calls. Virgin Media O2 is donating more than 61 million GB of free O2 data to the National Databank to help people most affected by the cost-of-living crisis to stay connected.

The ongoing partnership forms part of VMO2’s new sustainability strategy, the Better Connections Plan, and is one of the ways it will reach its goals to improve the digital skills and confidence of two million people by the end of 2025.