Google’s Digital Garage opens in Library of Birmingham

Google's new Digital Garage in the Library of Birmingham to be growth engine for local business

  • Google's pop-up 'garage' opens in Birmingham, one of five UK city centres
  • New research shows over half (51%) of small businesses say young people are not learning enough digital skills and nearly a third (29%) feel the cost of training is putting them off getting the basic digital skills they need
  • 200,000 businesses to get a digital 'tune-up' and free digital masterclasses from Google and partners
  • Google will nurture future digital talent by organising coding training sessions for 25,000 teachers

Google has today launched The Digital Garage at Library of Birmingham in Centenary Square. The Digital Garage is a multi-million pound initiative that will help 200,000 British businesses learn crucial skills for the digital age, and use the power of the internet to reach more customers and increase productivity.

The Digital Garage will be a growth engine for all local SMEs and entrepreneurs offering them direct access to Google's expertise to help any business transform into a truly digital savvy outfit. Google is urging Birmingham businesses to take advantage of all the Garage has to offer, from one-to-one mentoring sessions, masterclasses and a digital "tune-up" – all completely free of charge.

Accounting for over 99% of all private UK businesses, small firms are critical to the Midlands' growth and ambition to increase productivity. 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%) say young people are simply not learning enough digital skills. Moreover, nearly one in three (29%) businesses find that high training costs means they can't boost their skills. Yet nearly two fifths (39%) of SMEs believe digital technology will improve their productivity.

Opening its doors on Monday 27th July, the Garage will support local SMEs, providing access to advice not always available to them.The Digital Garage Birmingham has been developed in partnership with Library of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council (Digital Birmingham), Marketing Birmingham, Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership.

In an additional effort to help ensure that young people acquire the computing skills needed to succeed in the futuret, has also invested in computer science and is providing training for more than 25,000 teachers in partnership with Code Club Pro, Computing at Schools (CAS) and Raspberry Pi. Workshops and events for teachers will be held at the space and in local schools alongside the development of online training resources and donation of Raspberry Pi computers to use in the classroom.

Councillor Penny Holbrook, Cabinet Member for Skills, Learning and Culture at Birmingham City Council said: "This collaboration between the Library of Birmingham and Google is fantastic news, following hot on the heels of our partnership with the British Library. This shows that major organisations not only want to come to Birmingham, they want to work with the city council and the Library of Birmingham. We are committed to making Birmingham the enterprise capital of the UK and are already acknowledged as a hotspot for start-ups, and I am delighted that Google has endorsed Birmingham as a city that is critical to the growth of the digital economy."

Eileen Naughton, Google's Managing Director for UK & Ireland said: "It can be easy to think that technology is just for start-ups, but we know it can bring real growth to all businesses. So with fewer than 30% of SMEs having an effective online presence we're working to help jumpstart the other 70%. At a time when there is pressure for the UK to boost productivity to contribute to real wage increases, we believe Google can be a real growth engine that helps deliver these gains."

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, who gave his backing to the initiative and will launch Google's pop-up 'garage' in Birmingham, said: "It's vitally important that small businesses here in the Midlands can compete in the digital age. So I'm delighted to see a project like The Digital Garage bringing skills to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the region and acting as a growth engine for our digital economy. All the evidence clearly indicates that businesses with a strong online presence grow faster, have access to wider markets and generate new jobs more quickly. So this programme stands not only to benefit businesses individually but also to provide a real benefit for the wider economy."

Business owners and teachers in the Birmingham area can sign up for workshops and events organised by Google and its partners on the following website:

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