Sky Up: 1 Year On – Tackling the Digital Skills Challenge
A year ago, we launched Sky Up, our program to tackle digital inequality and provide vital skills training to 250,000 people through a dedicated £10 million fund.
But the current gaps in digital skills will cost UK economy £28 billion, shown in research by the CEBR and worse still, research by Ofcom during the pandemic showed that one in five school pupils do not have consistent access to a suitable device for their online schoolwork. We also know people aged 65+ are most likely to struggle to go online and know how to use digital services.
Alongside Comcast, who are confronting the digital skills divide in the United States through Project Up, we want to give people access to the right digital skills and technology to succeed.
One year into our Sky Up program, I am delighted by the impact we have created:
Sky Up Digital Hubs
Our Digital Hubs in community centers provide free Wi-Fi and digital skills training powered by Sky. In twelve months, we set up an incredible 35 new Digital Hubs in the UK and Republic of Ireland.
They are making an important difference: over 800 people have got online and accessed training, provided by 400 Sky staff volunteers. Nearly 80% of users felt more confident when going online.
Getting connected and having the right digital skills is so important. Our partner, Iain Anderson, CEO at Age UK Leeds told us the Hubs“reduce loneliness by enabling older people to remain socially connected and assist them in accessing a range of services which are increasingly only available online.”
With Sky, we've found a partner who understands the deeper fight and wants to do it right - with the empowerment of the people that they're serving.
Sky Up Academy Studios
Our Academy Studios program celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2022. It’s fantastic that over a quarter of a million young people have participated in this unique studio experience where students create content on an urgent issue such as climate change.
Last year, over twelve thousand students from 525 schools participated and after surveying teachers from partner schools, 99% told us that the studio sessions developed digital skills.
Academy Studios was based where Sky had UK sites, but we didn’t let bricks and mortar stop our ambition, we took it on the road with Sky Up Academies Studios On Tour. Since launching our mobile studios – housed in an e-vehicle – we visited 18 schools in Suffolk, Bradford and Walsall, enabling 16,000 students to take part.
During the students' visit to Sky Up Academy Studios, our highest ability children from a disadvantaged background could see they've got exactly the same opportunities as someone that is high ability from an advantaged background.
Sky Up Tech Grants
Our Tech Grants program works in partnership with social impact agency, Spectra to support young people leaving the care system who are more likely to fall on the wrong side of the digital divide. We provided broadband connections, technology bundles and mentoring to 150 young people. At summits in Stockport, Dorset and Gateshead, Sky volunteers gave career guidance and showcased jobs in the digital and media sectors.
Creating a better future for all
I am incredibly proud of the Sky Up’s team hard work and impact created last year. When I visited Academy Studios, I was struck by the teamwork, digital skills and creativity on display. Seeing it first-hand has strengthened my determination to help people of all ages and backgrounds get connected and make the most of the digital world.