The term “digital by default” trips off the tongue very easily in modern society, however for many members of our communities, going digital can be a very daunting task indeed.  

Having been appointed as Parkhead CAB’s new Digital Advisor at the end of 2018, I have been working to train and support clients, volunteers and staff in what is becoming an increasingly digital world. With the tips & advice I received at SCVO Digital’sStorytelling Success: Describing your Digital Journey event I produced a short promotional video to help spread awareness of our Charter Fund supported “Digi? Aye!” project.  

Here at Parkhead CAB, we have a system in place where we use the Essential Digital Skills Questionnaire to survey members of the public who attend our drop-in service. This enables us to capture the current IT skills of a cross section of society, whose opinions might otherwise go unchecked. Understandably, not everyone is in a position to complete our survey due to personal circumstances; however we are keen to promote the service to ensure our clients know how to stay safe online, and are also aware of the trusted comparison websites which will help them get the best deals on essentials such as gas and electricity. Clients attending appointments to complete their new Universal Credit claim are also given the chance to complete the survey. 

From December 2018 through to mid-March 2019 we have received 82 surveys. 46 of these have indicated they are not in a position to learn new skills from the 5 categories (Communicating, Handling Information & Content, Transacting, Problem Solving and Being Safe & Legal Online) at the moment. However, this means that the remaining 36 people (44% of those surveyed) ARE interested in improving their current digital skills.  

In addition to surveying our client base, we have also approached our staff and volunteers, as we all have the responsibility of keeping our skills current. From this, we established the common thread that we were unsure which websites are safe and how best to detect scams and other suspicious online activity. Subsequently, a training session has been arranged for early April with mobile company Three to learn more about digital security, which we can cascade on to our clients.  

Staff and volunteers have also had the opportunity to attend SCVO’s Digital Champion Training in our onsite training room at Parkhead, where we discussed the importance of digital inclusion, and how both staff and volunteers can play a role as digital champions in our everyday interactions with our clients. We gained useful insights into using various online tools and applications, in addition to discussing the advantages of using password managers for increased online security. All of these approaches are prompting us to consider new ways in which digital technology can be best utilised to help us support our clients. 

Moving forward, we will be looking to raise awareness of the local training providers who can continue the digital up-skilling those ready to take the next steps on their digital journey. We are optimistic this will become our default process and ensure the “digital by default” concept becomes more attainable for a greater number of our clients.