BUSINESSES in Glasgow are being given the chance to learn vital digital skills for free. BT is working with Google Digital Garage to deliver the training.

The sessions are part of BT’s Skills for Tomorrow initiative – a new programme designed to empower 10 million people by giving them the skills they need for the digital future. BT has collaborated with leading digital skills organisations to collate courses and information, in one easy to navigate place, with these free resources available to anyone. Everyone is included – from school children to older people.

At BT’s first Scottish Skills For Tomorrow training event for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) held at Glasgow Science Centre, hundreds of businesses received advice on how to build a digital marketing plan; how to use data analytics to find new insights; and how to ensure greater visibility online. Event leaders also covered areas such as growing a business internationally and utilising social media to reach new customers.

This comes off the back of BT’s latest research tapping into SME opportunities and challenges, heading in to the New Year. Almost 30% of SMEs agree that acquiring the right digital skills in business and enhancing online presence is a key challenge in the next 12 months. And, almost 40% of Scottish SMEs believe that BT should play a role in providing digital skills training.

Scotland faces a digital skills gap, which is having a profound impact on the country. The rapid pace of change is leaving people behind – as many as 11.3m UK adults and 10% of the UK workforce lack basic digital skills. The tech sector is forecast to be the fastest growing sector in Scotland to 2024, in terms of GVA – growing more than twice as fast as the economy overall. This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year, according to BT’s latest Digital Impact and Sustainability Report.

Chris Sims, managing director, SME, BT, said: “In this digital era, the fact is, every SME needs to be a technology business to succeed. But, as our research indicates, many SMEs struggle to keep up with the pace of technology. We believe that the key to closing the digital divide is in empowering SMEs with the right tools to radically improve operations and cement business success.”