As a mother of three who stayed at home until all of my children started school 17 years ago, I sympathise with those mothers returning to work in 2015.

For me, I decided that after a few years looking after small children it was time to return to the world of employment. How things had changed in that short time...and how scary it all had become. The employment landscape had changed drastically to a very digital one. Although I had some computer experience it just wasn’t going to be enough. Reviewing advertised jobs, it seemed my secretarial skills required polishing I needed join the digital world.

Fear of this new landscape was an understatement. I was a single mum with a responsibility for three young children, my confidence dipped and I felt unemployable in the roles I was looking for. There was only one course of action. Taking a deep breath, I enrolled onto a ‘Women into Technology’ course and began to gain digital know-how and the qualifications that I hoped would improve my employability factor.

It was the best decision I could have made. Since this time I’ve had a range of exciting and enjoyable roles where I’ve been able to put the digital knowledge I gained into practice.

17 years later and people looking to return to work still have the same fears and lack of confidence. Someone said to me just yesterday: ’If you haven’t updated your digital skills in the last three years then they are out of date’ - how true this is. Just imagine how it must feel for mums who have chosen to wait a few years before returning to work and they find out their skills are out of date or no longer relevant.

Having digital skills has never been so important to secure a job in 2015, yet many still do not have the basic skills needed. The government plans to go digital by default by 2020 and this will affect so many people in the UK if they do not start gaining those all-important skills.

I believe the primary reason for so many people not being digitally literate or keeping their digital skills up to date, is fear of failure, lack of confidence and self-belief in their abilities. This could be likened to going to the gym, whereby the intention is there, but fear and lack of confidence will prevent people from taking that all important step.

Recently, I came across a similar story to mine whereby a mother who hadn’t used a computer for 20 years started her digital skills journey. I hope her story, like mine, will encourage others who want to get online or improve their digital skills in 2015.

About the author

Debbie Townsend has worked at BCS for over 16 years. With a keen interest in education, she successfully managed the launch of the new entry level Digital Skills qualification that supports adult learners returning to work.