Although older people are statistically more likely to lack computer skills, social deprivation is also an important factor in so-called "digital exclusion", the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has said.

According to the industry body, the issues of computer skills and social exclusion are "closely correlated".

Jon Gamble, director for adults and lifelong learning at the LSC, stated that those who struggle with PCs should be taught how to adapt to new technologies as they develop.

He said: "The digital divide is more complex than just a generation gap. Just as not all older people are ‘offline’, so not all younger people are ‘online’."

He went on to say that around ten per cent of people aged 16-24 do not use computers, often as a result of challenges they face in their personal lives, such as homelessness, abuse or drug misuse.

Earlier this month, the LSC warned that a lack of IT knowledge can be a barrier to finding a job, not least because much of the recruitment process now takes place over the internet.