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West Midlands Digital Roadmap

Significant Challenges Across the Region

  • Highest number of non-internet
    users in UK (1/5th), with a further 1/5th limited users
  • Low broadband connectivity,
    particularly Black Country - full fibre coverage under 10% in Sandwell, Walsall, and Dudley
  • Limited mobile connectivity – approx 10% of geography with no 4G coverage
  • Highest proportion of employers saying they find digital skills difficult to obtain from applicants of any UK region (38%)
  • Limited data analytic capacity and capability within local government and ad-hoc approach to data sharing
  • Limited equity investment - lowest deals per 10,000 SMEs of any English region
  • Large productivity gap – particularly Digital and Creative sector (-£7,157 GVA per employee compared to UK average)
  • Limited cross-regional governance to drive shared progress on these challenges, particularly around data sharing, digital inclusion, and basic digital infrastructure
  • Nationally, 56% of adult internet non-users are disabled, much higher than the proportion of disabled adults in the UK population as a whole (22%)

Impact of Covid

  • Shift to working from home has accelerated pressures on connectivity and changed business
    models of public and private sector
  • School closure highlighted challenges of digital exclusion, with children unable to access learning
  • Acceleration of digitisation across business presents opportunities for growth, but also challenges for firms who struggle to ‘catch-up’ and to growing companies who cannot find necessary digital skills