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Santander Launches Free UK-wide Online Introductory Digital Skills Course

Research Reveals Impact on Careers Faced by Those with Lack of Relevant Digital Skills

  • Almost a fifth (17%) of UK workers say they cannot change their jobs or start a new career because of their lack of digital skills.
  • Eight out of 10 (82%) employees admit they do not feel confident doing certain tech tasks such as creating formulas in a spreadsheet, setting up a video call or backing up files to the cloud.
  • One in four (25%) are reluctant to start their own business due to a lack of digital skills.
  • To support people who want to take the first step on the pathway to building their digital skills, Santander in collaboration with the Institute of Coding and Durham University’s TechUP initiative, launches Your Digital Pathway, a free online introductory level digital skills course with 50,000 places available for UK residents.

New research1 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 feels they lack the digital skills needed to take this step.

A 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 Huttnell, Director of Santander Universities UK: ‘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: ‘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.’

Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University and Director of TechUP: ‘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.

  1. Research is drawn from a survey conducted by OnePoll of 2,000 UK adults, nationally representative, between 10 and 16 December 2021.
  2. Digital skills Brits don’t feel confident doing include: 1. Creating a website; 2. Creating a blog; 3.Creating formulas in a spreadsheet; 4. Creating a presentation using Microsoft Office or Google Docs; 5. Using LinkedIn; 6. Turning on / off track changes in Microsoft Office or Google docs; 7. Applying for jobs via a social media platform; 8. Creating a download link for pictures and videos; 9. Backing up files on the Cloud; 10. Sharing your screen during a video call through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or similar; 11. Setting up a video call through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or similar; 13. Creating email signatures; 14. Laying out a CV using software such as Microsoft Office or Google Docs; 15. Uploading/editing a document online using Microsoft Office or Google Docs; 16. Entering data into a spreadsheet; 17. Using different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; 18. Updating hardware or software versions on your computer or other device; 19. Installing a printer on your computer or other device; 20. Setting up an out of office email message; 21. Uploading your CV online; 22. Changing the display settings on your computer; 23. Setting up your computer for internet access; 24. Applying for jobs online; 25. Staying safe online.
  3. All participants need to do to enter the draw is complete the full course by 11:59pm on 10 July and share their certificate of achievement on Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn with the hashtag #NeverStopLearning. After 10 July Santander Universities will select 88 individuals at random who have met the above criteria. The 88 participants selected will be required to send a screenshot of their social media post that includes their certificate of achievement and #NeverStopLearning hashtag to [email protected] by 5:00pm on 22 July.

Partner Institutions

Santander universities

Banco Santander is firmly committed to progress and inclusive, sustainable growth, with a long-standing dedication to higher education that sets it apart from the world’s other financial institutions. Banco Santander has committed more than EUR €2 billion and awarded over 630,000 scholarships and grants since the Universities programme began. It has 1,000 agreements in place with universities and institutions in 31 countries, of which over 80 are in the UK. Through these agreements Santander provides education, entrepreneurship and employability opportunities for university students and training and support for the growth and transformation of innovative start-ups and SMEs. For further information please visit:

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 31 December 2021, the bank had around 19,200 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, via a nationwide branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising over €120 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2025, as well as financially empowering more than 10 million people over the same period. At the end of 2021, Banco Santander had €1.15 trillion in total funds, 153 million customers, of which 25.4 million are loyal and 47.4 million are digital, 9,900 branches and 197,000 employees.

Institute of coding

The Institute of Coding (IoC), led by the University of Bath, is a large national consortium of employers, educators, and outreach organisations that is co-developing new courses and activities that are helping a larger and more diverse group of learners into digital careers through higher education.

The IoC consortium forms a unique grouping that can leverage multiple perspectives and deliver large-scale teaching capacity. With its excellent track record of engaging learners on innovative, inclusive digital skills courses, the IoC consortium is ideally placed to deliver the expanded skills training that the country needs. The IoC has cleared barriers and delivered collaboration between 35 universities and 200+ employers and outreach organisations to create courses and events enrolling 900,000 learners to date. Importantly, the IoC has also proven that they can diversify access to digital skills through the provision of short, modular learning, with women making up 46% of the learners on IoC online programmes.


TechUP is a Durham University initiative that works with and supports those with the potential to succeed who are unable to access tech training. With a specific focus on underrepresented groups, it works closely with industry to retrain, upskill, motivate and inspire.

TechUP is rewriting the rule book and amplifying the voices of those who need to be heard. Led by Professors Sue Black OBE and Alexandra I. Cristea, TechUP’s pilot project TechUPWomen, funded by the Institute of Coding, took a cohort of 100 women from underserved backgrounds. Its over-whelming success led to award wins including a 2020 Impact Award and a transformational effect on the lives of participants. The initiative underlined the need to deliver the programme further, faster and wider.

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This press release was posted by Santander UK and has been shared on the TechUP website with permission. The original post can be viewed here