Digital Boost UK joins forces with Coursera to offer free digital skills courses
Digital Boost UK, a charity venture that helps charities and small businesses get the essential digital skills they need, is partnering with Coursera to fill the vast digital skills gap in the UK in areas such as digital marketing, data analytics, and search engine optimisation.
According to Sifted, the UK workforce has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with thousands of lay-offs and company closures, and part of it comes down to the lack of digital skills as many businesses struggled with moving operations online and finding digital ways to continue serving customers.
Back in 2016, technology giant IBM accurately predicted that the lack of skills in the digital workforce may hinder global digital development despite the rise of big data and analytics.
Sanjay Brahmawar, the Global Head of strategic business development for IBM’s Internet of Things said, “One of the biggest issues is going to be the gap in skills. Getting the skills required to analyse and manage all of this data is going to be difficult.”
“By 2020 we will have one million unfilled jobs in the IT sector. Primarily because the skills we have today aren’t the right skills for the future. The future is more about business understanding and data understanding.”
Sherry Coutu, a serial founder and angel investor of Digital Boost UK, said that years of underfunding in the UK hs caused the country to lag behind in digital skills, and this has been turned into a crisis by COVID-19.
“The statistics are really shocking. At large businesses, some 91% of staff are very comfortable with digital technology, but at businesses with 10 to 49 staff you only have 32% who are digitally native.”
“That leads to a productivity gap of 82% between big and small companies. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that 95% of people in the UK work for small companies.”
However, Coutu said that the digital skills gap in the UK is a “solvable problem”.
The partnership with Coursera will give businesses signed up to Digital Boost UK access to 3800 free digital skills courses from 200 of the world’s top universities and education providers, which include the University of London and Imperial College, as well as major tech companies such as Google and IBM.
Digital Boost UK also offers free one-on-one mentoring calls, where businesses can speak with digital experts who provide practical help and advice in only 60 minutes.
Small business owners can also check out Google Digital Garage which offers a number of free digital skills courses in data and tech, digital marketing, and career development.