The Importance of partnerships to deliver digital skills programs

Discussion session from SME Conference

Written by Donatas Gricius, Upskill Digital

Takeaways from the SME Conference 2019

In February we attended the SME Conference in Manchester organised by Digital Leaders. The event was a great opportunity to learn from industry experts and from our peers and get a clear picture of how the public sector, large corporates and specialists are supporting SMEs to reduce the digital skills gap.

It was very exciting to meet and learn about different initiatives to support SMEs in an environment where we still have 1.7m small businesses that can’t perform basic tasks online.

The conversation was around the programs to help SMEs obtain the digital skills they need to tackle the productivity gap, and more importantly get them to feel that they are ready for the digital age.

“SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy. 73% of new jobs created are with SMEs.”

– Sabby Gill @sabbygill7

National programs going local

Michele Lawty-Jones, Director at Lancashire Skills Hub introduced the UK’s first Digital Skills Partnership piloted by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the country, in partnership with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s Skills and Employment Hub.

Google, TSB and Lloyds have all agreed to give more support to digital skills training in Lancashire through the partnership. Google has committed to work with local partners to train 1,000 people and businesses through its Google Digital Garage programme.

They have already driving strategy around digital, linking into digital inclusion supporting the population with digital skills, social mobility and access to public services and the employability.

The future of the workforce and driving the pipeline of talents. Working with schools, colleges, universities and equally with businesses directly looking at reskilling the current workforce and support them with technology adoption

Lloyds Bank Academy, the pilot launched in Manchester set up to support individuals, charities and small businesses with the essential life and work skills. The program is based on the framework which would cover the basic digital skills, essential to be successful in the workplace.

The pilot for six weeks in Manchester last year, both face to face training and online training. Not rolled out across the country just yet but an online presence will allow to do that.

“We don’t want to recreate programs and platforms where they already exist. What we’re trying to do some extent is to curate content across different partners and talk to people in a right technology, so is about what they want and where they can go and get that. It will help people and businesses to find the right content that fits their needs.”

– Sam McGreevy, Digital Inclusion Senior Manager, Lloyds Banking Group

 The importance of local partnerships

“Collaboration is at the heart of everything – UpSkill Digital is a local partner helping to deliver Lloyds launches Bank Academy in Manchester.”

– Nick Williams, Lloyds Bank

There are so many digital skills programs in the UK at the national scale, but to be successful at the local basis we need to partner both with the private and public sector. The Lloyds Bank Academy was very successful in a local authority where they got really engaged in the program. Working with Stockport council and Salford council to take the actual program.

Working closely with Google and Upskill Digital that make the programs both successful and also great for small businesses to access. While 75 percent of small businesses aren’t investing in digital skills and technology, providing a service to them which is free is very important. This is a benefit to the overall productivity of the economy.

Digital Strategy

U.K. sitting in 17th places at the G20 for productivity, which is actually pretty scary fact. More strategic approach is required to identify what they need and the gap they have in a digital skill within their business.

Many of the SMEs might not be aware of the support that’s available or how to reach out to. When it comes to identifying needs, many of the SMEs may look for some advice on what can be right for them, with the huge range of courses available, where to start?

All small businesses are different and have their own individual needs. When it comes to digital marketing, companies are trying to increase their reach and gain more customers using digital channels. From another perspective, financial software can be used to reduce the time and gain in productivity. So is more about the couture of learning within the organisation and leadership to equip the teams with the skills and technology required.

Reducing mid-set barrier

The main challenge is the initial engagement, once people are engaged with the learning program they obtain very positive experience.

By making business owners understand what digital actually means to them and the benefits of being more digital capable. Demystify for them and provide a structure of learning and how to implement the skills.

About Upskill Digital

Gori Yahaya

Upskill Digital is a digital training consultancy. We have been very fortunate to deliver programs such as Google Digital Garage and Lloyds Bank Academy. We work with a network of trainers to deliver these training on the ground.

To date, we have trained over 90,000 individuals in and topics such as G Suite, Digital Marketing, Data & Analytics and Cyber Security for Businesses.

We believe in the power of human interaction, and use digital tools to enhance this, not to replace it. Our method of training has led us to find a focus on deploying in-person training. It’s helped us to build awesome Train-the-trainer programs that have brought the most technical of experts out of their shell, suddenly able to share product advice and company values at scale.

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