From 100-year-olds coming for advice on how to keep in touch with their families to businesses looking to improve their online presence, Sheffield’s Google Digital Garage is helping to bridge the digital skills gap around Yorkshire and beyond.
The search engine giant has been set up in Sheffield for the last few months, the first time it has run the project in a high street location, in order to provide free training and advice on how to improve the technological capabilities of individuals and companies.
Google established the project in order to redress the digital skills gap, estimated to cause one in three businesses to struggle to fulfil customer requirements. Google has teamed up with The Yorkshire Post’s parent company Johnston Press to spread the word about the Garage and what it can do.
May King Tsang, digital coach at the facility in Sheffield, said that she had encountered people who had travelled from as far away as London to learn new skills.
“It has been amazing so far.
“We have helped people from all walks of life. We have small businesses come in, just a whole series of people.
“We had two women who were 100 come in with their tablets so they could speak with their families.
“Some of the businesses we have worked with have been great, we have been able to help them improve their digital practices and make the moves they need to improve their digital presence.”
Ms Tsang said she and her team at the Google Garage had enjoyed a great reception from the city of Sheffield.
“It has been really positive. People have come from far and wide. We have had people come across from Manchester and Leeds.
“We had even a person come in from London who had heard about us thanks to a message she had seen on Twitter.
“People come away from here unable to believe it is free.”
Ms Tsang added that a great deal of people were hesitant to come in but should not be, as the process of beginning to learn digital skills was very easy.
“It can be very isolating for people,” Ms Tsang said.
“They do not want to appear stupid but there really should be no barrier. There is nothing you cannot achieve. I have seen a few people walk up and down the street a few times before eventually walking in.
“They realise there is nothing to lose. We really can help everybody.”
The news comes as today accountancy firm PwC publishes research showing that three in five UK workers are ready to learn a new skill or completely retrain to keep themselves employable.
More than half see this as their responsibility, rather than their employer’s.
The research also found that more than a third of UK workers are worried about what the future world of work holds for them – the highest among global peers.
The Google Garage is based at Barker’s Pool in Sheffield City Centre. To register for a course visit g.co/SheffieldGarage.