This Capgemini exec says we have a digital inclusion problem that has put those without the connectivity skills and access at a severe disadvantage.
Businesses are more digitally connected than ever as a result of COVID-19. Most CIOs I speak with have told me it has accelerated their organization’s digital agenda by five years, and the demand for “digital everything” from the business has maxed the IT organization’s capacity. Yet, this connectivity puts many in our society at a disadvantage. People who have access to the internet and connected devices also have access to most of the opportunity, education, training, and career options. But those without these resources, who are already economically disadvantaged, struggle more to learn and grow, advance their education, or advance their careers in the job market. And according to a Pew Research Center study, there are 33 million Americans (10%) who are currently offline.
These two sides demonstrate the digital divide. Those who have access to internet connectivity, computers, mobile devices, and other digital assets can more easily build the skills needed for careers in the modern era. Naturally, those who do not have this same access are at a clear disadvantage. 2020 research from Capgemini revealed that 44% of offline respondents believe they would be able to find better paying jobs and educate themselves if they had internet access.
Bridging the digital divide is one of the great challenges we face as a society today. In the U.S., the primary barrier is cost. 84% of the offline population under 36 years old says the cost of an internet subscription is what prevents them from going online, compared to a 51% average globally. 76% of the offline population in this age group in the U.S. also say computers and mobile phones are too expensive, compared to 56% globally. In addition to these economic barriers (67% of the offline population is below the poverty line) a disproportionate percentage of the offline population are women–53%.