Google has announced the opening of a pop-up Digital Garage at the City Library in Newcastle where it will deliver free digital skills training.
The pop-up, which opens today (April 22), will employ experts to provide one-to-one mentoring and digital masterclasses five days a week.
The Digital Garage in Newcastle is being delivered in partnership with Newcastle City Library, Newcastle City Council, North East LEP and the North East Business & IP Centre.
Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central and Shadow Minister for Culture & the Digital Economy said: “Newcastle’s future economy will be digitally driven, I want everyone to be able to benefit from the fantastic opportunities digital is bringing so I urge all local businesses to take full advantage of the new Google Digital Garage, which offers free training and advice from online experts.”
Google is inviting anyone from individuals looking to improve their career prospects and vocational skills to small businesses looking to grow online to pop by the Garage for a digital tune-up.
More than 90 per cent of jobs will require digital literacy in the near future according to the European Commissions Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs.
Over 88 per cent of businesses that have previously attended a training session at The Digital Garage state that they have changed the way they run or promote their business online.
As much as 68 per cent of people surveyed say they have seen positive results after attending Google’s free training such as increased sales, bookings, web traffic or social media following.
Eileen Naughton, Google’s Managing Director for UK & Ireland said: “In the digital age, a basic understanding of how the online world works is useful; and when it comes to business, it’s essential.
“We are bringing the Google Garage to Newcastle because we believe Google can be a growth engine for businesses all across the UK — from start-ups to established companies.
“We are also welcoming individuals, be they recent graduates or aspiring entrepreneurs, to attend seminars at the Garage and learn more about how digital can help them grow.”
Neil Morgan, EVP Digital Marketing at Sage UK Ltd said: “Sage works with hundreds of thousands of small and medium businesses in the UK so we understand how important digital skills are in enabling them to reach potential customers.
“Employers like these welcome digital training for the additional ‘employability’ factor it gives to both employees and potential candidates.
“This week’s Digital Garage from Google is a great initiative to bridge the digital skills gap.”
Small firms can be the driver for the North East’s growth and productivity and account for over 99 per cent of all private UK businesses.
Research from Google has shown that SMEs across the UK believe digital technology has an important role to play in the future of their business.
However, it is hard for them to find the right skills as the majority (51 per cent) say young people are simply not learning enough digital skills.
Moreover, nearly one in three (29 per cent) businesses find that high training costs means they cannot boost their skills.
The Digital Garage will also host bespoke training events for charities, computer science education sessions for students and teachers in the city, and a range of other activities delivered in partnership with local organisations.
Outside of Newcastle City Library, the team of digital trainers will visit the other districts of Newcastle and conduct training and mentoring to local communities where there is a demand.
The initiative is part of a multi-million pound investment outside of London, and aims to be a growth engine for 250,000 British people, giving them crucial skills for the digital age.
To help ensure that young people acquire the computing skills needed to succeed in the future, Google.org has also invested in computer science in partnership with Code Club Pro, Computing at Schools (CAS) and Raspberry Pi to support training for thousands of teachers.
Anyone in Newcastle who wants to improve their digital skills can sign up for workshops and events organised by Google and its partners here.
The Digital Garage will be open until the beginning of July 2016.
Training is also available online here.