£10m digital boost on offer

The initiative - Get Your Head Into Digital - sees five weeks of free digital skills workshops being held for businesses in Middlesbrough, Stockton, Hartlepool, Darlington and Redcar and Cleveland .

It is hoped more than 200 companies will adopt digital technologies as a result of the workshops and Tees Valley Unlimited believes that if the initiative achieves that the Tees Valley economy could benefit by more than £10m over three years through job creation, higher profits for businesses and wages for staff. This is based on information from the Office for National Statistics and industry and government reports

More than 100 businesses have registered to attend the workshops and the organisers said those who have yet to sign up should do so without delay as the workshops will end on April 2.

It is believed - based on the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index - that there are around 4,300 businesses in the Tees Valley with no effective digital presence and low or basic online skills.

Get Your Head Into Digital programme is part of the Government’s national SME Digital Capability Challenge Programme and is being run by Teesside’s DigitalCity and the Tees Valley Business Compass.

The workshops cover a range of topics including getting your business online, selling online, using social media to reach more customers, business banking online and accessing business files from any device anywhere in the world.

Michael Ryding, director of DigitalCity, said: "There are a huge number of economic benefits to businesses of all sizes and sectors in using digital.

"The figures speak for themselves. Those businesses which have a digital presence are more profitable than those that don’t.

"Digital technologies are tools which help businesses to operate more effectively – it doesn’t matter whether you’re a sole trader or running a traditional business employing a team of staff, the workshops offer real skills that can help you grow your business and operate more effectively."

Nationally around a third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) don’t have a website. If voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) are included the figure rises to 50%.

Independent analysts Booz and Co. estimate full digital take up could add £63bn value to the UK economy.

Published: 06 March 2015

Article by Peter Jackson
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