Sky will tackle digital inequality and enhance skills of 250,000 people with £10m fund to address digital exclusion

Monday 11 April 2022

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  • ‘Sky Up’ programme sets ambitious goal to help up-skill those who are digitally isolated with technology, connectivity, and training
  • 100 new Digital Hubs targeted at economically deprived areas 
  • Tech Grants for young people will include new tech devices and reliable internet connectivity to support learning
  • Expansion of Sky Up Academy Studios to develop young people’s digital storytelling skills

Sky is today setting an ambitious new goal to tackle digital inequality and provide support to a quarter of a million digitally excluded people through a new £10m fund.

The new programme – Sky Up – will support people to succeed in a digital age, ensuring that those who are most at risk of being digitally excluded are given access to the right skills, technology, and connectivity. The programme will see £10m invested to level up communities in the markets that Sky operates in and ensure no-one is left behind in the digital world.

Sky Up will be targeted directly at supporting the two groups who are most at risk of digital exclusion in our society, ensuring they are not held back by a lack of digital equity.

  • Under 25’s in low-income areas - research conducted by Ofcom during the pandemic, shows that one in five school children do not have consistent access to a suitable device for their online schoolwork. Sky Up will directly support young people under the age of 25 from lower income areas through digital training, reliable internet connections, and the right equipment to allow them to learn and succeed.
  • Over 65’s - the majority of people who are digital excluded are aged 65 and over, according to Age UK, and the greatest causes of digital exclusion amongst older people are lack of skills, a lack of trust, and not having a reliable internet connection. Working directly with local Age UK centres, Sky Up will be targeted at those over the age of 65 who lack the skills and confidence to get online safely, offering them advice and training to make the most of services and opportunities available online.

Announcing the opening of the first Sky Up Digital Hub, Sky’s Group CEO, Dana Strong, said:

“Digital connections can unlock opportunities for those who are most excluded. Sky Up will give people in need a chance to create a better future."
Dana Strong

Group CEO

Sky Up will deliver 100 new Digital Hubs, powered by Sky’s broadband network and partner with local and trusted charities in the heart of the community to provide free internet access and digital skills support. Sky Up’s first two Digital Hubs will be located in Hackney, East London, and Leeds in Yorkshire, and will be delivered in partnership with Badu Sports and Age UK respectively.

Alongside Sky’s ambition to create 100 new Digital Hubs, Sky Up will include:

  • Sky Up Tech Grants – targeted to help young people between 16 and 25 who have left the care system to get and stay connected through a £550 individual grant. The recipients will receive a personal tech device pre-loaded with relevant software, an internet connection through Sky, and access to skills training.
  • Through a major expansion of Sky Up Academy Studios, Sky aims to engage 20,000 students a year in its successful Academy Studios initiative which has already inspired 167,000 young people looking to work in the creative industries. The programme will be expanded to a new site at Sky Studios Elstree and will be taken on the road to communities across the UK through a new e-vehicle mobile studio.

Sky’s ambition is part of parent-company Comcast’s ‘Project UP’ – a comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and build a future of unlimited possibilities. Backed by a $1 billion commitment to reach tens of millions of people over the next decade, Project UP encompasses the programs and community partnerships across our organisation that connect people to the internet, advance economic mobility, and open doors for the next generation.

The Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, Chris Philp MP said: “Everyone, no matter their age or background, should be able to enjoy the huge benefits of digital technology - from learning, entertainment, shopping and doing business. I welcome Sky's ambitious skills programme to tackle digital exclusion and help thousands of people up and down the country access the growing benefits and opportunities of going online."

Nana Badu, CEO and founder of Badu Sports, said: “During lockdown we all truly understood the gap in digital equality for the most underserved communities. The new Sky Up digital studio in Hackney is an important solution to start closing that gap. We are delighted to be partnering with Sky who are seeking deeper impact when it comes to tackling digital inequality.”

Iain Anderson, CEO of Age UK Leeds, said: “We are very grateful for the support provided by Sky. This is a fantastic opportunity to support many older people to become digitally connected and to develop new skills. By having this facility, we will be better placed to reduce loneliness by enabling older people to remain socially connected and to assist them in accessing a range of services which are increasingly only available online.”

Notes to editors

Media contacts
Sky Press Office:

Relevant statistics:

  • The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that the UK will miss out on £28bn of value as a direct result of digital exclusion, holding people back from careers and their ability to fully participate in our society. (Source: CEBR)
  • The demographics least likely to have internet access are the older population aged 65 and over (18% without access) and lower income households (11%) (Source: Ofcom)
  • 4% of children rely solely on a mobile connection for homework (Source: Ofcom)
  • 40% of over 65s don’t feel confident using a tablet or a smart phone (Source: Age UK)
  • Amongst older people, the top three barriers cited which stop them from using the internet are: a lack of digital skills, lack of trust in the internet, and not having access to equipment and broadband. (Source: Age UK, 2021)

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of Comcast Corporation. Across six countries, we connect our 23 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news, arts and to our own award-winning original content.  Following the launch of Sky Glass, we now offer customers our strongest ever line-up of products and services. As well as the new streaming TV with Sky inside and everything integrated, customers can enjoy the award-winning Sky Q with all your favourite channels and apps in one place, and with Sky Go you can now access an even better experience on your devices. Sky TV has new channels, new shows and new deals with Peacock, Paramount+ and more. Sky Mobile was voted Best Pay Monthly and Best Value Pay Monthly network by Uswitch, and with Sky Broadband we’re offering our fastest speeds yet.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years alone. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Sky Cinema is the home of Sky Original films with brand new films launching every month alongside an unrivalled range of the latest cinema releases and on demand library.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26 – the UN Climate Change Conference. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity, and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation.  We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over the next three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.