A lack of digital literacy is affecting mothers' mental health and ability to join the workforce, according to a new study
Digital skills are vital for any modern employee, but a lack of technical ability is having a particularly wide-ranging impact on mums, according to a new report.
Roughly one in five mums (18%) claimed their ability to return to the workforce after having a child was hindered by a lack of skillset.
A similar number (19%) said it prevented them from entering the workplace for the first time.
The research, which was conducted by #techmums – a not-for-profit organisation that helps to upskill mothers through digital literacy programmes – also found that 31% of parents thought that technical knowledge would help them re-enter the workplace.
Lauren Allison, CEO of #techmums, told NS Business: “Teaching mums technology isn’t going to create a million new coders, but that’s not the aim.
“The goal is to make technology work for mums and make their lives easier, happier, more connected and less isolated.
“Our main aim is to break down that fear of technology and bring familiarity – so that means not being scared of pressing the other buttons at the top of the keyboard, and to build confidence and excitement.”
She added: “When you look at the digital skills gap – which is a real and pressing need in our society today – if you target mums, they are the force multipliers in societies.
“They are the ones who will go on and train other members of the family, so that’s why we work with mums specifically.”
How does #techmums help mums gain digital skills?
The organisation #techmums runs several online and physical programmes aimed at reducing some of the figures presented in the report.
Each project takes place over ten weeks and helps mothers to learn the basics of tech – from demystifying terms such as “the cloud”, all the way through to staying safe online, managing family finances online and, eventually, the basics of app design and coding.
Following completion of the programme, Ms Allison stated that some of the mums go on to have roles in technology companies, others move their businesses online and some use their new skills to educate their children and keep them safe online.
A lack of digital skills was linked to other issues for mothers, such as negatively impacting mental health and an inability to protect their children from online bullying.
In order to combat this, #techmums has set itself the target of reaching one million mums by 2020.
Ms Allison added: “The mental health and isolation statistics are particularly hard to hear.
“It’s a really big problem in our society and I think technology has an amazing ability to bring people together.
“But if you don’t have the right skills or don’t know how to navigate it, it can be an extremely isolating thing.
“While it’s sad to hear that we still have many of these problems, the research shows why we need organisations like #techmums and the benefits it can have for people.”