Google has announced Sheffield as the first UK city to host its first ever digital skills training centre located on the high street. The Digital Garage will be based on Barker’s Pool in the city centre and will offer free digital skills training seven days a week for six months.
Attendees will be able to learn the vital skills needed to succeed in the digital age, from how to develop their web presence, grow their business or charities online, improve their career prospects or just build their confidence by using online tools for the first time. They can register for courses at g.co/SheffieldGarage or just pop-in for free advice.
More than 90 per cent of jobs will require digital literacy in the near future and according to the British Chambers of Commerce 76 per cent of businesses in the UK say they have a shortage of digital skills in their workforce.
Respondents explained that reasons behind the gap included lack of time for staff training, difficulty in identifying appropriate training and the high costs of training at 32 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
Similarly, another survey found that half of charities don’t have a digital strategy and 71 per cent of them rated their board’s digital skills as low or needs improvement.
To help address the digital skills gap Google is returning to Yorkshire for the second time after launching the Digital Garage programme in Leeds in 2015. Since then the Digital Garage has helped give more than 150,000 people across the country the digital skills to succeed, through pop ups in Glasgow, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Cardiff.
IPPR North research has found that over 88 per cent of attendees of previous Digital Garage events have changed the way they run or promote their business online, with 68 per cent saying they had seen positive results in increased sales, bookings, web traffic or social media after attending Google’s free training.
One example is Jonathon Blackburn, from Harrogate, who attended the Leeds Digital Garage and after a session with a Google expert he learned about how best to use keywords in Google ads and he quickly saw an increase in leads and new business.
Now two and a half years on he is receiving £100,000 a month worth of leads, converting into £50,000 a month of actual new business wins – all from a spend of £400 a month on Google AdWords.
In fact as a result of the advice he received at the Digital Garage about what keywords to use, he has been able to change the direction of the company and is now able to go for higher earning refurbishment jobs instead of lower value property maintenance.
Torsten Schuppe, Google EMEA VP Marketing, 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. W
“We are here to ensure everyone in Sheffield has access to the best free training and advice and are particularly excited to open the first ever Google digital skills training centre on a British high street right here in the Sheffield city centre.
“This will make it even easier for you to just pop in and get the skills you need to find opportunities to excel in what matters most to you, grow your business, or launch the next big idea.”
Edward Highfield, director of City Growth at Sheffield City Council, said: “We are delighted to welcome Google’s Digital Garage to Sheffield, a fantastic addition to the heart of our city centre. We know there is still more to be done to empower people to use the internet and tackle the issues that prevent people from engaging with rapidly changing digital culture.
“We encourage everyone to take full advantage of this unique opportunity, and look forward to seeing how Google can build even further on Sheffield’s reputation for growth, innovation and business success.”
The Google Digital Garage will be delivered in partnership with Sheffield City Council and local partners including The Good Things Foundation, a charity that supports the digitally and socially excluded to improve their lives through digital.