TalkTalk directors today joined digital inclusion campaigners to show their support for Get Online Week and launch a new package aimed at helping to close the UK’s digital skills gap.

The telecoms company revealed details of a new Internet Start broadband deal designed to help those without basic digtal skills enjoy great value access to broadband at home.

From November, the package will be available for users of Good Things Foundation’s network of 5,000 UK online centres who undertake an introductory Learn My Way digital skills course.

Digital skills unlock many benefits; the internet savvy can transact and find the best deals online, communicate with family and friends in more ways and access vital public services which are increasingly moving online. Crucially, those with digital skills are financially better off, with the latest figures from Good Things Foundation suggesting that getting online can increase lifetime earnings by £8,300.

As part of TalkTalk’s Digital Champions volunteering drive, TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding, HR Director Nigel O’Sullivan, CTO Gary Steen and Corporate Affairs and Regulatory Director, Jessica Lennard pledged to abseil from the roof of the company’s Shepherd’s Bush office if 600 employees agreed to join them in sharing their digital skills as volunteers at local UK online centres. They did so in their droves.

Joining them to rappel the 120ft down the side of the TalkTalk White Building on Friday (16 October) was digital inclusion campaigner Rachel Neaman, CEO of digital skills charity Go ON UK.

With her feet firmly back on the ground, TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding added: “It’s simply not good enough that in 2015, over 12 million people in the UK still don’t have Basic Digital Skills - that for them, sitting down in front a computer to send an email or apply for a job can be as daunting as abseiling off a building. 

“TalkTalk has always believed access to the internet should be a right, not a privilege. No one should be excluded from the benefits the digital world has to offer and I’m proud we’re playing our part in making sure no-one is left behind.”

Rachel Neaman, CEO, Go ON UK, added: “At Go ON UK we want everyone in the UK to have the basic digital skills they need to succeed in our increasingly digital world. We know that cost of access is a major barrier to people going online, so it’s vital that there are affordable options out there for those wanting to develop their skills. Initiatives like Internet Start are crucial in helping people begin their digital journeys and I am proud to be here with Dido and other colleagues to launch this new package.”

Of the new Internet Start initiative, Helen Milner OBE, CEO of Good Things Foundation commented: “It can be challenging living without the benefits of the internet, but it’s the reality for one in five UK adults. Our research shows that concern about the price of broadband stops many from taking the plunge.

“By teaming up with TalkTalk and offering a great value offer that we can provide alongside supporting people to gain the skills they need through Learn My Way training course, we’re able to offer an attractive package that can tackle some of the main barriers people face in getting online."