Santander launches free UK-Wide online introductory digital skills course

New research by Santander has revealed that the average UK worker believes it’s too late to change careers by the age of 45 – because they can’t keep up with technology.

A study of 2,000 adults found one in five (21%) would like to retrain and start a new career, but worry they are ‘too old’, while almost one in five (17%) workers feel they lack the digital skills needed to take this step. Fear of change and a lack of confidence are the biggest barriers to changing careers for 30% of adults, but nearly a quarter (22%) worry about having the ability to learn a new job or simply don’t know where to begin.

One in seven (14%) even believe they have lost out on a job due to their lack of digital skills, while another 12% think they have been offered a lower salary for the same reason. Nearly one in five (19%) have decided against applying for a job due to their lack of digital skills and a quarter (25%) would be reluctant to start their own business.

As part of its broadening support for lifelong learning and those facing challenges presented by the
pandemic, Santander UK, through Santander Universities, is launching a free online introductory
level digital skills course with 50,000 places available across the UK. In partnership with the Institute
of Coding and TechUP, the Your Digital Pathway course has been developed to support people who
want to take the first step on the pathway to building their digital skills. With three learning pathways
available, the introductory course can help people to return to or start education; return to work or
pivot their career; or set up a business online.

Matt Hutnell, Director, Santander Universities UK, said: “There is a misperception that you reach a
point in your career where you’ve left it too late to learn new skills, especially when it comes to technology.
Re-skilling or up-skilling can be daunting, especially if you aren’t that confident when it comes to new tech,
which can become a huge barrier when it comes to changing careers or trying to get back into work. This
has only been exacerbated by the pandemic as various roles have become increasingly digital with the
move to more remote working, but learning a few new skills, or simply getting more confident in the ones
you already know can really open up your career options, whether you want to upskill in your current
career, start a new one or get back into work following some time out.

“Our free digital skills course, as part of our Lifelong Learning campaign, is designed to give people the
introduction they will need to start improving their digital skills. So many people have been affected by the
pandemic, whether they are now unemployed or in a career which is now struggling. We want to help give
people the skills they need to give their working life a boost.”

The research also found that although the pandemic has seen many people move to home working
and become more self-reliant with online systems, many feel they would still struggle with some
‘basic’ digital tasks. When asked about their confidence levels in completing 24 different things(2),
such as creating formulas in a spreadsheet or backing up files to the cloud, 82% had at least one task
they did they do not feel completely confident carrying out.

More than a quarter (27%) would find it hard to create a presentation and despite the rise of video
calls during the pandemic, 22% aren’t completely confident setting up a virtual meeting or sharing
their screen during a call.

For job seekers looking for something new, 16% also worry they would struggle to upload their CV online while 15% aren’t confident they could apply for jobs via the internet. A quarter (25%) worry they wouldn’t be able to use LinkedIn – a key platform to source and apply for new roles.

However, it also emerged two fifths (40%) are looking to embark on a new challenge at work over the next year. For 17%, the change is being driven by their current field struggling with the effects of the pandemic, but 21% feel the pandemic gave them the opportunity to re-evaluate their career. Others are feeling more ambitious (14%) or motivated to start something new (10%) while nearly one in five (18%) have used the time to learn new skills to open up more roles to them.

Prof Rachid Hourizi, Director of the Institute of Coding, said: “It is clear that one of the many impacts of the pandemic has been an increase in the number of people re-evaluating their job, career path and next steps. We’re delighted to be working with Santander and TechUP to create and launch Your Digital Pathway – a course that will help people get the introductory digital skills and resources they’ll need to feel confident taking the next step, whether it’s in work, education or business. Through collaboration with our consortium of leading UK universities and employers, we’re creating digital skills courses like this that are helping a larger and more diverse group of people reach their goals through lifelong learning.”

Prof Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University and TechUP Lead commented: “Education and technology transformed my life, enabling a successful career and being the vehicle that brought my family out of poverty. Digital skills and an understanding of the opportunities available to us all online now play a fundamental part to having a successful career. In this programme we have specifically chosen topics, from the basics through to some advanced areas, which will contribute towards learners’ understanding of the opportunities available to support their path towards tech success. Whether you want to get back into education or work, or set up your own business, we’ve created a step-by-step course to help you get there. Technology is the future, make sure you are part of it”.

Santander’s Lifelong Learning Programme – Your Digital Pathway
Your Digital Pathway is a new, free digital skills course that Santander Universities UK has launched in collaboration with the Institute of Coding and the award-winning TechUP initiative based at Durham University. The introductory level course has been developed to support people who want to take the first step on the pathway to building their digital skills and is designed to enable people to get started in education, work or business.

Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate of achievement and will also be entered into a draw to win one of 88 personal/professional development grants worth up to £2,500. These grants will be available to use on the tailored Santander Aspire webstore to buy a variety of resources including laptops, tablets and Chromebooks(3).
Your Digital Pathway is open for registrations until 29 June 2022.

Find out more about the programme and how to apply for the free course here: