Google has hailed the success of its digital training programme after helping 13,000 Scots to enhance their technical skills over the last four years.
The tech giant, which has a Digital Garage training centre in Edinburgh and conducts roadshows across Scotland, today announced that it has upskilled more than ten million people across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Its Edinburgh base, which launched last summer, is set to close before the end of the year, following the model of the group’s Glasgow centre which operated in 2016.
However, Google aims to continue its work in rural regions, through touring roadshows, and with partner organisations.
It is now looking to empower local partners, which include the Scottish Government, universities and community centres, to develop and maintain similar training initiatives. Around 13,000 individuals across Scotland have attended the free training courses, funded by Google, as part of the tech group’s education programme which aims to help bridge the digital skills gap.
Almost half (48 per cent) of Digital Garage trainees in Scotland have been women, while around 25 per cent of people were unemployed at the time of attending.
Matt Brittin, Google’s president of EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) business and operations, told The Scotsman he had been “blown away” by the response to the firm’s offering in Scotland.
He said: “As well as providing the training, we wanted to understand if it was actually making a difference to people’s lives.
“We found that 45 per cent of people report that they’ve gone on to get a better job, a new job or to grow their business. We’ve learned a lot from that and it helps us to refine what kind of training we want to offer in the future.”
The Digital Garage has conducted several tours across rural regions of Scotland, including a 2017 roadshow in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which trained more than 250 people “in some of the remotest and smallest communities”.
A fresh tour is taking place across Scotland this year, while the group will also work in conjunction with City of Glasgow College and the Scottish Business show.
Google is looking to share the findings of its training courses with formal education providers and policy makers to create “self-sustaining” digital programmes which provide continual upskilling opportunities for staff and communities.
Brittin said: “Over the next couple of years we’ll hopefully develop new and different partnerships and help other organisations become the place where people go to learn.
“The tech sector in Scotland represents about 3 per cent of the economy, but tech jobs create much more economic value per head.”
He added that the sector is growing “twice as fast as the economy, so it’s a real engine room of economic growth”.