On the road with Google

Following our ongoing success in getting people engaged and learning via our high street Digital Garage in Sheffield, we wanted to make our free training even more accessible.

All aboard: Google has converted a traditional double decker bus into a mobile digital training hub.
All aboard: Google has converted a traditional double decker bus into a mobile digital training hub.

So, we converted a traditional double-decker bus into a digital training hub – and for the next few months we will be driving around South Yorkshire bringing digital skills training to you.

Rural areas can be the hardest hit by the move to digitise services, with many areas experiencing the closure of banks, post offices and other services, with the only access being online. However, the problem many face is that those in rural areas are also the least likely to be online.

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Rural areas of Yorkshire are amongst the highest for digital exclusion, with 25 per cent of adults in some areas lacking the five key digital skills. The bus tour means that we can bring Google’s expertise to smaller towns across the region, ensuring local people and businesses have the tools they need to build their skills, get ahead online and remain connected.

The bus can offer training from absolute beginner level to more advanced skills for small business owners or those who are looking to build on their existing knowledge.

For instance, if you are looking to get online for the first time and make the most of the internet to stay connected with friends and family, our First Steps Online training can get you set up and feeling confident. There are courses that can help you get to grips with online banking following closures of local branches. Or if you’re worried about online safety and security you can book onto the course we are holding in partnership with Which? that teaches people how to stay safe online.

And more advanced courses are available for those who have some knowledge but want to grow it or back it up. Crystal Gurowski and Josh Stilton visited the bus when it was parked in Fox’s Valley near Stocksbridge, which they came across when they were running errands. Crystal is from Australia, whilst Josh is from Stocksbridge and they are combining their passion for adventure with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and starting a business where they will be selling their own branded apparel.

They currently have a large personal following on their blogs and are wanting to build a business around their love for exercise. When they visited the bus they learnt some extra tips and tricks for social media strategies and were introduced to new apps to edit their photos. Following their visit to the bus Crystal and Josh have now booked a follow-up session at the Garage in Sheffield where they’ll learn more about website design.

Visitors to the bus can either book in advance or simply drop in like Crystal and Josh did. Anyone interested in the free coaching can register and see the full bus tour itinerary at g.co/DigitalGaragebus.

Whether you are a complete beginner or already know the basics, for those who live in rural areas it’s never been more important to get to grips with the web and not be left behind as more and more essential services, and shops go online, whilst in the near future, more than 90 per cent of jobs will require digital literacy, so everyone will need to skill up, as more and more jobs become digital led.