Pat-a-cake pat-a-cake baker gran, sell me a cake on Instagram

  • BT Group research reveals that tech-savvy over-65s are making an average of £650 a year through selling ‘traditional’ skills online 
  • Findings show that improving over-65s’ digital literacy, so they could better monetise their skills online, could unlock over £1bn in economic value 
  • Grandmother Helen Ashton, 60, says new-found tech skills have helped her earn £4.5k-a-year from her lifelong passion 
  • BT Group is helping to close the UK’s digital skills gap with free learning courses. Sign up to ‘Digital discovery at any age’ now

BT Group today reveals how tech-savvy over-65s are making an average of £650-a-year monetising their traditional skills online.1

While Gen Z (18-24 year-olds) might be better known for online side hustles, over-65s are knitting, sewing and baking their way to spare cash, often marrying a lifetime of expertise with digital skills to gain followers and funds.

The Gen Z cohort make an average of £1,100 a year, around double what over-65s are making. Yet the BT Group research indicates that over-65s possess a lifetime of skills they could monetise online if they had stronger digital skills.

The research showed over-65s were 30% more likely to possess useful real world skills such as baking and knitting, than those under-65 (see table).

Yet when it comes to digital skills – which would enable them to turn their hobby into a way of generating extra income – the research showed older people are less confident than younger generations.

Despite nearly half (46%) of over-65s striving to improve their digital skills, BT Group’s research shows almost a third (27%) are not confident with tech and over half (57%) feel like technology is passing them by.2

Upskilling half of the over-65s who possess traditional skills, but are not confident with their digital skills, could create over £1.2bn of economic value.3

It comes as BT Group is helping drive digital skills among older generations through free learning programmes, including a free webinar ‘Digital discovery at any age’, a one-hour session to help over-65s to learn basic digital skills on Wednesday February 28 at 1pm GMT.

Helen Ashton, from Leicester turned her talent for painting into an income generator online and is a big believer in embracing digital skills in later life.

Grandmother-of-four Helen, 60, set up ‘Something Completely Different, (SCD) With Love’ five years ago – an online side-hustle specialising in painting staircase murals as well as painting ceramics.

She explained: “The amount of money I make through my side hustle varies, it’s usually around £1,500 for painting a staircase mural and I do about three each year.

“I began painting staircases five years ago for a bit of fun and to earn a bit of extra money, starting with a pub I used to work at in Lancaster.

“I used to get maybe one job a year through word-of-mouth and it was more of a hobby. But when I learned how to use social media to promote myself it turned into something more serious. I expect my business to earn £4,500 this year. 

“I’ve been able to build my audience on social media to promote my work across Instagram and Facebook, reaching so many more people than just word of mouth alone.

“I would urge older people like me to learn digital skills where they can, it’s not difficult and a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. I’ve been able to take something I love and turn it into a side hustle that makes me a bit of cash to treat the grandkids”.

Victoria Johnson, Social Impact Director at BT Group, said: “It’s great to see people launch side hustles in later life. Through our learning programmes and tech tips courses, BT Group is proud to be helping older generations get the digital skills they need to convert years of experience into a successful online business.”

To learn new digital skills, register for free to BT Group and AbilityNet charity’s free webinar ‘Digital discovery at any age’. 

Notes to editors:

1 Research is from a Opinium poll of 2,000 UK adults carried out on behalf of BT Group January 2024.

Breakdown of over 65s traditional skills vs.18 to 34-year-olds:
More than twice as many older people know how to wire a plug as young people (84% vs 39%)
Repair clothes (73% vs 50%)
Polish shoes (99% vs 78%)
Iron clothes (95% vs 86%)
Light a BBQ (76% vs 66%)
Grow plants (86% vs 68%)
Home-making (94% vs 71%)
Knitting (50% vs 31%)
Baking (75% vs 80%)
Restoration (39% vs 39%)
Vehicle maintenance (45% vs 43%)

2Source: the latest Office for National Statistics figures.
3Source: research from the UK Government.
4Source: BT Group. Base: All (3,012), All aged 65+ and not confident in their digital skills (195).

About AbilityNet:

UK charity AbilityNet has more than 25 years’ experience of empowering disabled people through technology at home, at work and in education. In its mission to create a “digital world accessible to all,” it works with individuals, charities, and community groups to champion inclusive digital design, and its experienced consultants empower the private and public sectors to deliver accessible websites, services, and apps. The Charity’s Patron is Baroness Martha Lane-Fox. www.abilitynet.org.uk

AbilityNet offers free IT support at home and online to older people and disabled people via its nationwide network of 450+ AbilityNet Tech Volunteers. To access the free service, call the helpline on 0300 180 0028 during UK office hours, email to enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk or visit: www.abilitynet.org.uk/at-home

About BT Group

BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network & IT infrastructure services to customers across 180 countries.

BT Group consists of three customer-facing units: Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; Business covers companies and public services in the UK and internationally; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary wholesaling fixed access infrastructure services to its customers - over 650 communications providers across the UK.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/about