Jobseekers who are offline are much less likely to find work, according to a new survey by UK online centres and research agency ICM which reveals that 72% of employers are unlikely to even offer an interview to someone without basic computer and internet skills.
The research also details the top IT skills employers are looking for in new recruits; being able to email (96%), word processing skills (93%), and the ability to search for information online (88%).
And it's not just getting through the door to interview where offline jobseekers are missing out. The report reveals that recruiters prefer advertising jobs online because it is accessible to more people (58%), cheaper and more effective (56%) and easier (49%). 25% of job opportunities are now posted solely online.
Martha Lane Fox, UK Digital Champion, founder Race Online 2012 campaign said: "With unemployment at a high, we must acknowledge that digital skills are vital if you are to secure employment in this competitive market. Today, we know that once in a job, internet savvy workers can earn an average increase in lifetime earnings of over £12,000. And, if 3.5% of offline unemployed could find work by using job websites it would deliver an estimated £560 million to the UK economy. It seems nonsensical that in 2012 there are still people missing out on the benefits and opportunities the web can offer."
There are currently 8.4 million people in the UK who can't use computers and the internet, and with unemployment reaching a new high at 2.68 million, those without computer and internet skills are being put at a real disadvantage in their quest to find work.
One person who has seen first hand just how hard it is to get back into work if you're offline is Remington Mills, 54, from Middlesbrough who was recently laid off. He says: "Losing my job was a real blow. It was a point of pride that I was a worker and had earned my own money, so I wanted to get back into work straight away. I'd never used computers before - I'd never needed to at work - and I didn't realise just how much I would need them for my job hunt."
"I visited my local UK online centre - the Hope Foundation in Middlesbrough - where the staff helped me apply for a temporary job at the Post Office over Christmas, and I was dead chuffed when I got it! It was only temporary but a big step to be working again. I'm now looking for another job but I can go to the Hope Foundation every day to improve my skills. I wish I'd done it years before!"
This research report has been commissioned by UK online centres, a national social enterprise that helps people to get started with computers and the internet, to support the "New Year, new online you!" campaign they are currently running in conjunction with Jobcentre Plus. The campaign aims to encourage offline people to make 2012 the year they get started with computers and the internet in order to change their lives, and take advantage of all of the great services that are available to them.
Helen Milner is Chief Executive of UK online centres. She says: "We always knew that being offline if you're unemployed puts you at a real disadvantage, and this report just goes to prove that. And it's not just getting into work that can be affected - if you can use computers and the internet, you'll also earn between 3% and 10% more over your lifetime. That's why this campaign is so important, and I really hope that people are inspired by the benefits that being online can bring, and decide to find somewhere near them where they can find a little help - whether they've never touched a computer before or just need some help brushing up on their skills."
Events are taking place at UK online centres across the country between 23 January and 17 February so people can get started with computers and the internet. You can find a local event by calling 0800 77 1234, or by visiting www.ukonlinecentres.com.