When I first started working full-time back in 2000, one of the topics that we talked about was the concept that over time there might be a ‘digital divide’. I was working in one of the major IT PR firms and I had some big names as clients. One of my jobs was thinking about future trends and topics and coming up with articles about them and sell them into magazines. One of my stories became the main cover feature one time!
But now, I am really becoming more and more aware of the digital divide. While studying for my Masters I was hoping to supply teach a couple of days a week, however due to school budgets being cut there is even less of that than ever before. So I have been looking at our local shopping mall (ugh, I know, but the mortgage and bills must be paid). I went around and took copies of my CV with me. However without fail I was told to apply online.
This is true for the supermarkets and general stores now.
What if I don’t have an internet connection at home?
OK, so I could go to the library, where we are lucky to have free internet access. But let’s take the Boots application that I just had to do.
First I needed to go online and spend about 15 minutes answering various multiple choice questions; including asking me several times if I was over 14 and I had a work permit.
Then later that day I got another email saying I had to go and complete another section of the application – which took 35 minutes. Well, that’s ok for me, but what if I had to take a second trip to the library and I had childcare issues?
So I filled that lot in (multiple choice about how I dealt with customers and basically asking me if I could follow orders). Then the following day I got an email telling me I didn’t get in. (I guess I can’t just follow orders).
Fine, but on top of that I check each week (several times in some cases) each of the major companies if they have any availability yet. At each point I have to fill in an online form if there is.
I am lucky in that I have broadband access at home (although as both of us game it would be good to have a higher bandwidth!), but what about those that don’t. When even minimum wage shop roles are only available online there really is a digital divide at work here.