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SME & Charity Digital Skills Taskforce

Written by Heather Grant, Digital Inclusion team at Lloyds Banking Group and Chair of SME & Charity Digital Skills Taskforce

In line with our commitment to help Britain prosper, Lloyds Banking Group has pledged to increase the digital skills of 2.5m individuals, small businesses and charities through training by the end of 2020. As part of this broader commitment, in our latest SME Charter, we pledged to support 50,000 SMEs and charities with increasing their digital skills in 2017. This pledge was made on the back of the latest findings from the Lloyds Bank Business Digital Index which showed that 1.4m (38%) small businesses and 98,000 (49%) charities in the UK don’t have Basic Digital Skills so we were keen to play our part in closing this gap.

Fortunately, we aren’t tackling this problem alone. A lack of digital skills could have an impact on every workforce and organisation across the UK so cross-sector collaboration will be key to helping address the issues at pace and at scale. In May 2016, as part of our role on DCMS’s Council for Digital Inclusion and as the UK’s largest Retail and Commercial bank, the council, chaired by the minister for Digital asked us to lead a cross-sector Taskforce to drive digital skills amongst SMEs and charities and it has been my absolute pleasure to take on this challenge and Chair the Taskforce.

We’ve brought together a fantastic group of passionate individuals from across the UK who all have an interest in increasing the resilience of small organisations through the power of digital skills. From large corporates, to charity representatives, policy makers, campaign organisations and tech businesses, we have been focused on pooling our collective experience and resources to drive change across 3 key signature actions:

  1. Improving signposting to digital skills support
  2. Increasing face-to-face digital skills training
  3. Encouraging other organisations to use skills-based volunteering programmes, like the Lloyds Banking Group Digital Champions programme, to increase digital capability amongst colleagues, customers and communities.

The signature actions align to various pieces of research findings e.g. organisations have reported that they don’t know where to go for digital skills support; face-to-face training is fragmented and geographically imbalanced across the UK; and we know that the Digital Champions model works well as people can be trained, for free, by ‘local faces in a local places’.

From a signposting perspective, the Taskforce has developed a Digital Know How Toolkit which firstly, includes suggested messages and Tweets for organisations to use to best engage their SME and charity audiences with how digital skills can support them. Secondly, the Toolkit includes a list of online and face-to-face digital skills resources that can be shared via various communications channels e.g. newsletters, websites, blogs, useful links pages etc. to help organisations find training and resources that could help them build their online presence. You can access the Toolkit here and please feel free to tailor the messages to your organisation’s own brand and share the content far and wide!

From a training perspective, I’ve been really amazed and inspired by how much activity is already taking place across the UK. In 2017, so far, just from the 23 Digital Skills Workshops we’ve run with Google and Reason Digital, plus Do It Digital’s skills roadshow and The Good Things Foundation’s SME training programme with Google, over 30,000 small organisations have been trained – and this doesn’t include any of the fantastic training underway by other Taskforce members.

We’ve learnt a lot from our own work and that of our Taskforce partners regarding driving digital skills amongst SMEs and charities e.g.:

  1. Partnership working gives the best results as content specialists and local organisations are brought together to deliver training in places familiar to local people
  2. Organisations are at very different points in their digital transformation journey so making content as bespoke as possible works best
  3. SMEs and charities have similar types digital skills needs and they value the opportunity to learn from each other
  4. A multi-channel approach to driving digital skills is key, particularly as getting organisations along to workshops is really hard but including a face-to-face option is vital

We will use these learnings going forward when working with our Taskforce partners, especially to help shape DCMS’s exciting Digital Skills Partnership proposition.

If you’d like to learn more about how to set up and run a Digital Champions network, or about the Taskforce in general, please get in touch with @LBGdigi

Together we can make a real difference – what action could you take?

“We are delighted to lead the SME & Charity Digital Skills Taskforce and have been so pleased by the enthusiasm and engagement we have seen amongst the members. As a cross-sector and pan-UK group, the Taskforce has the potential to drive significant improvements in the digital skills of SMEs and charities. Thanks to everyone for all your support.” Nick Williams, Consumer & Commercial Digital Director, Lloyds Banking Group & Member of Council for Digital Inclusion

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