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Report shows nearly 1 in 10 Brits have never used the internet

Jessica Hartogs, Special to
Klaus Vedfelt | Getty Images

The high number of adults lacking basic digital skills in the U.K. is costing the country's economy £63 billion ($89.2 billion) a year, according to new figures released Monday.

According to the Digital Skills Crisis report, published by Parliament's Science and Technology Committee, some 12.6 million adults in the U.K. are digitally illiterate, and almost 6 million people in the country have never used the internet – close to 10 percent of the U.K's population.

"The evidence is clear that the UK faces a digital skills crisis," states the report.

The report shows that the digital skills gap is apparent in the education sector as well as the workforce: Only 35 percent of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30 percent of the required number of computer science teachers have yet to be recruited.

"The UK leads Europe on tech, but we need to take concerted action to avoid falling behind. We need to make sure tomorrow's workforce is leaving school or university with the digital skills that employers need," said Member of Parliament and Science and Technology Committee Chair Nicola Blackwood.

According to the report, 13 percent of computer graduates are still unemployed six months after leaving university.

"The digital skills gap in the UK has been long talked about, but the hard truth is, it's getting wider... While there is much for [the] government to do, companies need to engage with education, to foster new digital talent and provide stronger local networking opportunities to open up dialogue with students and universities," said Michael Gould, CTO and founder of British tech unicorn Anaplan.

The study also states that some 72 percent of employers say they are unwilling to interview candidates who do not have basic IT skills. The average advertised salary in digital roles is just under £50,000 ($70,000) - 36 percent higher than the national average.

Almost 90 percent of new jobs in the U.K. require digital skills to some degree. In order to meet this demand - the U.K. will need an additional 745,000 workers with digital skills by 2017.

The authors of the report urged the U.K. government to release its digital strategy program, which was anticipated for January but will now not be released until after the EU referendum, according to U.K. newspaper The Times.

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