Google has come to Sunderland to give small businesses a boost.
The Internet search giant has opened a new digital skills hub in Sunderland and announced £1.7 million in funding from Google.org to the Good Things Foundation to deliver training.
The foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to enabling social inclusion through digital connectivity. The funding will enable communities to receive personalised digital skills training via face-to-face training and online.
The move comes as new research reveals nearly two-fifths (37%) of adults in the North East say they would benefit from digital skills training to boost career opportunities, while a third of SMEs in the region have no social media presence and nearly a third don’t even have an official website.
The study also found nearly a fifth of SMEs in the North East say that their business has no online presence whatsoever.
Ronan Harris, Managing Director, Google UK and Ireland commented: “Today, the need for digital skills is becoming more obvious in all sectors including those which feel far from technology related.
I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve opened a new Digital Garage training hub in Sunderland and are confirming the first five locations of our nationwide digital skills high street tour.Ronan Harris
“This new research shows that the digital skills gap is a reality for many businesses and communities across the country and with this comes limitations of personal and professional growth and opportunity.
“That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve opened a new Digital Garage training hub in Sunderland and are confirming the first five locations of our nationwide digital skills high street tour.
“By supplying tailored training in collaboration with organisations like Good Things Foundation, we hope to provide the tools and digital skills required to grow businesses, careers and the confidence of individuals throughout the UK.”
Helen Milner OBE, CEO at Good Things Foundation, said: “We’re delighted that Google.org is supporting our efforts to enable people with limited skills and limited experience of the Internet to thrive online and realise positive outcomes both in work and in life.
“The funding will enable us to build local community campaigns to raise awareness of digital skills, and to develop new learning pathways on ‘Learn My Way’, our open online learning platform, to help bridge the digital skills gap in communities across the country. Together we can help people get the most out of digital and all of the opportunities that it brings.”
Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott said: “While many people still see technology and gaining digital skills as a challenge beyond their reach, with the right training these skills can be picked up quickly, helping bridge the gap.
“By adopting digital technologies such as e-commerce, SMEs stand to benefit from increased productivity and access to new customers online. This is why I’m delighted to support the opening of the Google Digital Garage in Sunderland today, which is set to help many of our smaller businesses by providing a gateway to the skills they need to make the most of the digital economy.”
Joanne Jobling, Service Leader for Jobcentre Plus in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, said: “We welcome the chance for local people to update their digital skills. Working with partners such as Google UK and Ireland provides amazing opportunities for our customers to gain confidence in this area and help them in their journey into employment.”