top of page

How Does the Digital Divide Impact Education and Employment Opportunities in the Black Country?

Teenager using a tablet - digital divide

What is the digital divide?

Having digital skills and access to technology is crucial in our modern world. Millions of people rely on digital devices to complete their jobs, communicate with loved ones, make purchases online and study. However, not everyone has equal access to the internet, or any access at all - this is the digital divide. In the UK, 8.5 million people lack basic digital skills and 1.5 million people don’t have a smartphone or laptop. This has led to further segregation and widening disparities in society.

There are three types of digital divide: access, use and quality of use. The access divide refers to not being able to access the internet. Use divide is a lack of digital skills and quality of use refers to having some digital skills, but a lack of knowledge on how to use them effectively. 

Consequences of the digital divide?

Technological discrimination is a form of social exclusion and can have a hugely negative effect on a person's life. With technology rapidly advancing, those who are not already accessing digital technologies may fall further behind. Nearly a quarter (22%) of West Midlands residents are ‘non-users’ who either do not use, or do not have access to the internet. The consequences of this are that people feel disconnected and isolated, there is a barrier to knowledge, and limited access to opportunities. 

Who is the most at risk from the digital divide?

The digital divide is most apparent among those who are already at a disadvantage. For people who are not working or have a lower income, they do not have the disposable income to pay for digital devices or internet services. This also has an impact on young people, who to study from home require a laptop and internet connection. Equally, people without formal qualifications often get left behind, as higher education generally leads to employment and access to technology.

As services continue to move online, for the older generation who were not raised in the digital age, there is a lack of knowledge and confidence around how to use technology. People with a disability or impairment such as hearing loss, may also be impacted by the level of specialist technology available in order to complete a task online. 


The digital divide in education

One of the main areas impacted by the digital divide is education, as access to the internet and technology has become increasingly crucial in modern learning environments. This was exacerbated by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. As schools closed across the UK, both teachers and students had to study/work remotely. This highlighted the importance of young people having digital access. 

The digital divide in education refers to the gap between students who have access to computers, the internet and digital devices, and those who do not. Educational equity aims to ensure that regardless of a young person's background or circumstances, there should be equal access to educational opportunities and resources. Yet, in the UK, 0.6 million young people lack home internet or a suitable device. Hence, the digital divide has perpetuated existing socio-economic disparities and this has created systemic barriers for disadvantaged students, preventing them from fully participating in modern education.

What is the impact of the digital divide on education opportunities?

For students in the UK the digital divide has a significant impact on learning opportunities and puts a limit on their ability to thrive. The divide has created a ‘homework gap’, where children without digital resources struggle to complete homework or submit work digitally, widening disparities in learning outcomes. Students are unable to engage in independent learning and interact with online learning materials, such as textbooks, online websites and multimedia content. This limits their ability to explore a diverse range of subjects and access current information. This could result in them falling behind academically. 

Pupils without access to a computer, tablet or internet access also miss out on the opportunity to build critical social and teamwork skills, as they are unable to conduct virtual collaboration with other pupils outside of school hours. As a result, missing out on opportunities for cooperative learning and feedback. 

Digital skills are in high demand in today’s job market. The digital divide limits the exposure young people have to technology-rich learning environments, putting them at disadvantage in the job market and impacting their readiness for future careers. 

Why do we need to bridge the digital divide in education?

It is vital that we bridge the digital divide in education, by ensuring that children, regardless of their background or circumstances, have access to digital resources and technologies. We can level the playing field and reduce disparities. This will mean enhanced educational outcomes, equal opportunity to thrive academically and better career prospects. 


The digital divide in employment 

The digital divide in employment existed long before the coronavirus pandemic. However, it brought to light how a lack of access to digital technologies can severely limit job prospects. In 20 years, it is predicted that 90% of jobs will require digital skills and 92% of employers state they need their employees to have digital skills, meaning many people will be shut out of employment opportunities.

In the UK, 56% of people say they don’t have the essential digital skills needed for work. Among UK regions, the West Midlands has the highest proportion of employers who say it is difficult to find applicants with digital skills (38%).

How does the digital divide impact employment opportunities?

The digital divide contributes to broader economic inequality, and this could widen as the economy continues to digitise. This will make it increasingly difficult for those without digital access, as they may find themselves stuck in lower-paying jobs with fewer opportunities for advancement. 

The internet has become the primary resource for job searching, with most employers posting openings online. Without internet access, the chances of finding a high quality job is reduced. Equally, this shift towards online employment, means many job application processes take place online, typically through the companies’ website or via email. Many companies now offer hybrid or fully remote working. However, without internet access and digital skills, those affected by the digital divide are excluded from these roles. 

Why do we need to bridge the digital divide in employment?

By 2025, there are expected to be 3 million new tech jobs in the UK and with an increase in earnings in the UK of between 3% and 10% through acquiring digital skills, crucial work is needed to bridge the digital gap in employment. But access alone isn’t enough, people need to be provided with the opportunity to access skills training and digital support. 

How can Make More help? 

At Make More, we offer a wide range of digital support services, tailored to support all abilities. This includes Windrush claim support, benefit appeals, visa applications, SIM cards and STEM workshops. 

Found out more about how we can support you on our website


Reference list

Beckett, Z. (2024). Tackling the digital divide and empowering the future workforce. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jun. 2024].

Good Things Foundation (2021). Building a Digital Nation. [online] Good Things Foundation. Available at:

Hawksbee, A. (2021). The West Midlands Digital Roadmap. [online] WMCA Digital and Data. Available at: [Accessed 14 Jun. 2024].

Iberdrola (2020). Digital divide throughout the world and why it causes inequality. [online] Iberdrola. Available at:

King, R. (2023). New connections: how we’re bridging the UK digital skills gap. [online] Microsoft Industry Blogs - United Kingdom. Available at:

Kloza, B. (2023). Impact of the Digital Divide: Economic, Social, and Educational Consequences. [online] Connecting the Unconnected. Available at:

LinkedIn (2024). What impact does the digital divide have on job prospects? [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jun. 2024].

Lloyds Bank (2023). 2023 Consumer Digital Index. [online] Lloyds Bank. Available at:

McEwan, K. (2023). The Digital Divide in Education. [online] GearedApp. Available at:

Office for National Statistics (2019). Exploring the UK’s Digital Divide. [online] Office for National Statistics. Available at:

University of Plymouth (n.d.). How can closing the digital divide improve older people’s lives? [online] University of Plymouth. Available at:

West Midlands Combined Authority (n.d.). A Plan To Level Up. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Jun. 2024].

West Midlands Combined Authority (n.d.). Digital Inclusion. [online] Available at:

bottom of page