Ronan Harris, MD Google UK and Ireland, today officially announced the launch of the first London-based Digital Garage initiative, in partnership with the Evening Standard’s Future London campaign.
In London today 11% of the working population don’t understand basic digital skills. This partnership aims to give everyone the tools and support they need to take advantage of new opportunities and grow their business or career.
As a flagship investment programme for Google UK, in just three years the Google Digital Garage has trained over 300,000 people in over 500 locations. The Google Digital Garage bus is a mobile training hub with expert trainers and mentors on board. The hub is set to visit ten London locations before Christmas to deliver free digital skills training to local communities and businesses. The free training sessions aim to help grow the confidence, careers and the success of individuals and small business across the UK.
Baroness Fairhead CBE, Minister of State at the Department for International Trade (DIT) was also in attendance to discuss an exciting partnership between Google and the DIT. In 2019, a new training programme will be added to the Digital Garage offering which aims to train and support SMBs in the fundamentals and importance of export.
Londoner and Business owner Seyi Ayinla, built her Nigerian wedding planning website Love WeddingsNG following digital skills training at Google Digital Garage in Leeds. Seyi said: “The Google Digital Garage did not just help me, it also helped a lot of businesses that I work with. The support also changed the way I see my website – it’s gone from being a hobby to a fully-fledged business. The Google team supported me with changes that were so simple, but made a great impact.”
While London is currently ranked as the second most-connected tech ecosystem in the world, the long-term upskilling of workers is an ongoing focus area. Presently, London employers are facing a wider skills gaps problem, according to local government association London Councils. Despite the rising population, the number of cases where employers have been unable to fill a vacancy due to skills shortages has more than doubled since 2011 – rising from 14,000 to 37,000.
Ronan Harris, Google MD UK and Ireland commented: “We’re thrilled to bring the Google Digital Garage and, for the first time, offer free digital skills training to Londoners and businesses right here in the capital. The Evening Standard’s Future London campaign offered an incredible opportunity to partner so we can provide training and support for those who wish to learn crucial skills for the digital age. We firmly believe everyone should be able to benefit from the opportunities that technology brings and we want to give people the skills they need to grow their confidence, career or business.”
Minister of State at the Department for International Trade, Baroness Fairhead, said: “This exciting initiative from Google will give SMEs up and down the country the opportunity to gain extremely valuable insight into expanding or starting their export operations.
“The Department for International Trade has recently launched the government’s Export Strategy which sets out a further offer of export support for all businesses. This offer includes finance from our award-winning credit agency, UK Export Finance, advice from our network of Export Champions and a wealth of resources and opportunities on GREAT.gov.uk.”