Google will be taking its digital skills bus on a tour of central Scotland over the next three months, offering free internet literacy training at a variety of towns.
The tour forms part of the multinational’s Google Digital Garage initiative, and will stop at 50 locations between August and November, including Falkirk, Lanark and Glasgow.
A recent digital economy business survey found that just one in four businesses in Scotland felt their employees had the skills to meet their online needs, and two in five Scottish employers had vacancies in tech roles.
Research also suggests that up to 16 per cent of adults in Scotland’s most deprived areas don’t use the internet, contributing to gaps in digital skills and opportunity.
Google believes its Digital Garage bus can go someway to helping, by offering free workshops and face-to-face coaching, with visitors having the option to either book in advance or simply drop by for on-the-spot help.
The training ranges from beginner to intermediate levels, meaning everyone can come and take part, and covers topics such as taking your first steps online, how to build your CV, and social media strategy.
With research showing that nine in ten members of the UK public say they feel concerned about their online safety and security, visitors to the bus can also attend sessions on how to protect themselves online, as part of a partnership between Google and Which?
The aim is to help people learn how to spot and avoid the latest and most common online scams and threats, with simple steps that everybody can apply easily in their daily lives.
As well as local communities, the Google Digital Garage bus will also provide free digital skills training to charities and small businesses.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Digital technology is connecting us faster than before and transforming the way we live, which is why it’s crucial that everyone has the opportunity and support to keep up with the pace of change.
“By providing digital training to communities across the Central Belt, the Google Digital Garage bus will provide people with the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential while helping to grow Scotland’s economy.”
Alina Dimofte, digital skills policy lead at Google said: “Following our ongoing success in getting people engaged and learning via our high street Digital Garages in Manchester and more recently, in Edinburgh, we wanted to make our training is even more accessible, so we have started the bus tour to take training right to people’s doorsteps.
“Everyone has something they want to do, but may not have had the chance to do it yet. Whether that’s because of a lack of time, or opportunity, or support, the Google Digital Garage is here to help everyone take those first steps.”
David McNeill, digital director for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “There are around 800,000 people in Scotland who are not making the most of being online, many of whom need support to gain basic digital skills.
“This additional resource and expertise from Google is a fantastic additional layer of support to help communities make the most of the internet.
“Having the backing of an organisation the size of Google is a major boost as we aim to improve the skills of those most in need.”
Since launching in March 2015, Google has trained more than 300,000 people through the programme, and have visited more than 100 villages, towns and cities.
Anyone interested in free coaching can register and see the full tour itinerary at g.co/ScotlandGarage.