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Digital divide costing older people jobs

Age Concern launches Digital Inclusion Network to help give older people better IT skills.

Older people are being left out of the digital revolution and it's costing them jobs, according to new research from Age Concern.

The lobby group polled older people who do not know how to use a computer, finding that 70 per cent believe employers prefer to have workers with IT skills.

But only one in five employees aged 50 to 59 have had IT training recently, while one in three 25 to 49 year-olds have had recent IT training, Age Concern said. According to government figures supplied by the charity, two out of three existing jobs and nine out of 10 new jobs require IT skills.

To help battle the gap, Age Concern today launched the UK-wide Digital Inclusion Network.

"In a world that is becoming increasingly reliant upon information technology, it is vital that we ensure older people aren't left out," said James Purnell MP, the department for work and pensions minister with responsibility for e-government, at the launch. "It is equally important that we challenge stereotypes about older people as being afraid of new technology - the popularity of the internet with 'silver surfers' demonstrates that is simply not the case."

The network, which is supported by BT, will help 850,000 people receive IT training over the next five years.

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