The importance of digital upskilling

The coronavirus pandemic put into sharp focus just how important it is to have essential digital skills. From staying connected to loved ones to buying food, being able to easily get online was a necessity – especially as most of the country’s workforce was required to work from home for the first time in their careers.

Louise working on a laptop

With more than 11 million people believed to be lacking the digital skills needed for day-to-day life online, it’s estimated that in response to homeworking one in three people upskilled their digital knowledge, including Stonewater customer Louise Kitson.

Louise works for a charity based in the West Midlands that supports carers of disabled children, whilst also being a full-time carer for her son.

In her role, Louise is responsible for reporting on the charity’s finances as well as some of its compliance data relating to health and safety.

Having worked for the charity for nearly four years, she felt she was well equipped to use the software needed to do her job but was keen to learn more about some of the features Microsoft Excel has to offer, as she felt it might make a difference to the speed and efficiency with which she would be able to complete some of her daily tasks.

“I use a computer nearly every day and can use the systems at work to get my job done,” Louise said. “However, I felt like there must be some tips and tricks I was missing that would make some of the work I was doing a little easier.

“I received an e-mail from my landlord [Stonewater] about some of the courses they were offering free to customers and digital training was included in the list, which sounded perfect for what I was looking for as it could be shaped around what exactly I was looking to learn.

“Following my enquiry, I was put in touch with an online trainer. I had four one-on-one sessions, all hosted on zoom. This format worked well for me as it meant we could take it in turn sharing our screens so that I could have a go at using the functions after they had talked me through what to do – making sure that I’d really understood.

“The sessions were around two hours each and I was always set similar tasks to what I’d do in my job, so that I could easily transfer the skills I’d practiced. This included designing forms and spreadsheets calculating a wide range of data.

“Since completing the course, I’ve found it a lot easier to analyse the data I’m recording in the spreadsheets I use, which in turn has helped me to better inform the team and identify any organisational changes we need to make.

“It’s really made a big difference in terms of my confidence at work and I’m grateful that Stonewater was able to offer me the opportunity.

“I know people who tend to shy away or feel quite intimidated with learning digital skills, particularly if they have never used a computer or tablet before. But based on my experience I would encourage anyone who is interested and has the time to give it a go. You have nothing to lose, and the trainers are there to make it as simple as possible for you.”

Find out more about Louise’s experience of working from home and the value her digital skills training has added by tuning into both episode one and two of Inside Jobs – a two-part special of Stonewater’s On the Air podcast.

For information about digital skills training visit: