Together, We Will Make a Difference; Go ON UK: It's Your Digital Future the First in a Series of Special Features in Association with Go ON UK and Its Partners the North East Has One of the Highest Proportions of People in the United Kingdom That Have Never Used the Internet. Graham Pratt Talks to Go ON UK Chief Executive Graham Walker about How the Charity Is Championing the Battle to Reverse That Trend

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Why we will be helping the North East click IT'S a big job to make the North East truly digital. It comes down to individual behavioural change and skills. If you don't know what is out there and you don't understand what the benefits are for yourself or your organisation, then you aren't going to make online a priority.

In the UK one in five adults lack the basic online skills to get the most out of the internet. In all, 7.1million adults are not using the internet. If all SMEs in the UK marketed and sold services online there would be an PS18.8bn annual turnover boost - but only two thirds have a digital presence, and only one third sell online.

One fifth of charities have little or no digital presence and only 45% let the public donate online. All of these areas could grow if more people developed basic online skills. But what do we mean by that? They are the skills needed to enjoy a range of online benefits. Go ON UK has defined three categories of skill and the activities people need to complete at a basic level. They are: ? To Communicate: People need to be able to send and receive emails To find things: People need to be able to use a search engine and browse the web To share personal information,: People need to be able to fill in an online application An additional category of skill underpins the other three: Keeping safe online. This includes being able to identify and delete spam; evaluate which websites to trust and set privacy settings.

THERE'S no point in building 80 per cent of the Tyne Bridge," says Go ON UK chief executive Graham Walker, the man leading the charge to bring more digital skills to the North East.

"We want everyone to have basic online skills, not just because of the moral and social issue of making sure everyone can join in, but also because of the huge benefits. When you finish the bridge, you can get from one side to the other."

It's quite an appropriate metaphor.

With more than 500,000 people in the North East who are below the basic online skills threshold - nearly a quarter of the region's population - it's a gap that needs to be filled.

"If you were in your 50s of 60s 10 years ago, it wasn't such a big deal that you didn't have basic online skills. Now it's huge," says Graham.

"The majority of jobs are advertised online, and nearly all require basic online skills. For those in their 50s, it really does affect their employment prospects."

Go ON UK is a charity with a big aim. It wants to ensure that everyone and every organisation - from small business to large corporations and charities - is able to enjoy the social, economic and cultural benefits of the internet and in so doing, supercharge the UK economy and substantially improve the well-being of the country.

Founded by Martha Lane Fox, who created, Go ON UK wants to make us the most digitally-skilled nation in the world. Working with partner organisations, from big corporate entities such as Lloyds Banking Group, EE, Argos, TalkTalk and the Post Office, to local authorities and individuals, they have set a target of a 25% uplift in the region's basic online skills base in the first year.

"Lessons learned suggest that strong partnerships are the key," says Graham.

"We ran a similar campaign in Liverpool, 'Go ON it's Liverpool'. All the councillors said 'this is important to us: for economic regeneration, social issues, we should buddy up across the council and with our private sector partners, and do something about this'.

I want to sign up the charter good to benefit "Go ON it's Liverpool brought together these councillors, and 80 local partners and together they got 43,000 people online in 18 months - a 55% reduction. It proves to us that a peer-to-peer approach works. That's what we're going to try to do on a much bigger scale in the North East."

business Graham. " The region's local authorities are signing up to the Digital Skills Charter. …


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