Business Gateway will continue to deliver Scotland’s national digital business skills training programme, DigitalBoost, thanks to an extension of funding from the Scottish Government.
The digital upskilling programme will help thousands of Scotland’s SMEs for a fourth year running. The funding of £1.63m will run until 1 April 2020, with hopes that it will continue beyond that.
Kate Forbes MSP, Minister for Public Finance and Digital Economy, announced the funding extension whilst on a visit to Wonky Woolies, a Kelso-based bespoke knitwear company that has benefitted from DigitalBoost support.
“Technology is forecast to be the fastest growing sector in Scotland by 2024, but success is dependent on skills. We are committed to ensuring our workforce and businesses are able to embrace the many opportunities that the digital world offers,” Forbes said.
She said she was “delighted” to launch the “next phase of DigitalBoost” in order to support “more small and medium sized enterprises in Scotland achieve their digital aspirations”.
In addition, the Minister said: “The programme has already supported thousands of businesses and individuals to develop their digital capabilities including expanding into new markets. I look forward to seeing this continue into DigitalBoost’s fourth year.”
Almost 20,000 Scottish business owners have already benefitted from DigitalBoost’s expert free training and advice, including the founder of Wonky Woolies, Alison Pottie.
In 2018 Alison relocated the company from Glasgow to her childhood home in the Borders in order to secure larger premises, increase sales and bring jobs back to Scotland’s traditional textiles heartland.
Commenting on Digital Boost’s expert advice Alison said: “I approached DigitalBoost for support with our digital marketing strategy. I was allocated a digital expert adviser, who analysed our digital footprint, researched different brands and events we could integrate with and ultimately helped to produce a template for all of our social media and digital marketing content.
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“I have just taken on a new member of staff to help with our digital strategy, so the template has given her a really clear indication of my aims and her role in the process.”
Alison explained how DigitalBoost provided her with the relevant “knowledge and information” needed to progress their digital strategy. She said: “One of the most important things I took from the support was that digital marketing is a process which will continue to evolve as the business grows.
“As a small business owner, it’s great to work with external companies like DigitalBoost and Business Gateway who can see things from a different perspective.”
Since the launch of DigitalBoost in 2016, over 36,000 hours of one to one support have been provided, free of charge, to over 2,000 businesses.
Steven Heddle, Environment and Economy Spokesperson at COSLA said: “DigitalBoost has been successfully delivered by local government through our Business Gateway service for the last three and a half years and this is recognised in the continuation of funding.
“Over the past year alone, we have seen demand for DigitalBoost 1:1 adviser support increase by 50%. Thanks to this newly announced funding extension, we can continue this important work to help Scotland’s SMEs compete on both a national and international scale.”
DigitalBoost provides local workshops, one to one support from a digital expert, online tutorials, and practical guides on topics including social media, cyber resilience, data analytics, digital marketing strategy and e-commerce.
Another key element of the DigitalBoost service is a five-minute online health check business can take to assess their digital strengths and weaknesses. To date, DigitalBoost have encouraged over 7000 businesses to undertake a digital health check.