Google has opened a Digital Garage in Manchester city centre, offering free face-to-face coaching for anyone who wants to improve their digital skills, and marking a major new investment in the north.
The Digital Garage opened at 39-43 King Street today, Ruth Porat, Alphabet and Google’s Greater Manchester-born Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, announced a new goal to help 100,000 people in the UK find a job or grow in their career through digital skills training over the next three years.
The Google Digital Garage will be open seven days a week for a year – making it the first of Google’s Digital Garages to open for a full twelve months from the start. Almost two years after its first tenure at Manchester Central Library, the Google Digital Garage in Manchester is offering new free courses designed to help boost people’s confidence in using online tools, help them grow in their career, find their next job or follow their passion.
Google has also transformed a traditional double-decker bus into a mobile training hub, which will tour the Greater Manchester area from January offering free digital skills training on the doorstep for people who can’t make it into the city centre.
According to The Good Things Foundation, 90% of new UK jobs require digital literacy. Yet more than two thirds (69%) of tech businesses in Manchester say a lack of access to highly skilled workers is their number one barrier to growth, and less than half of 18- to 25-year-olds believe their education gives them the skills they need to enter today’s workforce.
Google launched its Digital Garage in the UK two years ago to help address this gap in opportunity and provide people in the UK with the skills they need to find a job, grow in their career or grow their business. Anyone can pop in or register online to take part in free workshops or one-to-one mentoring from a team of expert coaches.
The courses on offer in the Google Digital Garage range from ‘How to build your CV and personal brand online’ to ‘An introduction to coding’, and ‘How to Create a Social Media strategy’ to ‘Staying safe online’, and all subjects range from beginner to intermediate levels so anyone can take part.
Local business owner Angela Burnett visited the Google Digital Garage and learned how to use online advertising and social media effectively to grow her Manchester-based courier business, Speedy Couriers, into a national operation. She commented: “I attended the Digital Garage when it was first here two years ago and I attribute most of the success of my company to it. I also completed all the free online courses and have since reaped the benefits – taking my business from a small start-up in my parents’ bedroom to a successful company with 2,000 drivers. I’d encourage everyone to visit and try it out.”
Ruth Porat, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Alphabet and Google, said: “I’m honored to open the Google Digital Garage here in Manchester, not far from where I was born in Sale. Manchester is known as one of the great places to start and scale a digital business, and Google is excited to be here. We want to help ensure that everyone can share in the opportunities technology brings. That’s why we’re opening the Google Digital Garage in the heart of Manchester’s city centre, offering free digital skills training to all local people and businesses – from entrepreneurs, to students, to retirees.
“We believe there’s an opportunity gap as digital skills become ever more important in the workplace. Recognising this, Google is committed to help 100,000 people in Manchester and across the UK find a job or grow their career with new digital skills during the course of the next three years.”
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “The return of the Google Digital Garage in Manchester gives a great opportunity for people to equip themselves with the skills and experience they need to work in the jobs and industries of the future. The courses available here will be invaluable to people across Greater Manchester.
“We have set out ambitions to be a leading digital city in the Greater Manchester Strategy and the fact that Google have decided to reopen their Manchester site shows we are taking steps towards achieving that aim.”
First launched in Leeds in 2015, Google’s Digital Garage programme has already given more than 200,000 people across the country the digital skills to succeed. According to think tank IPPR North, nine out of ten people who complete courses through the Google Digital Garage make changes to the way they promote and run their business online, and two out of three see some positive results in sales, bookings, traffic or followers.
To ensure that the opportunities opened up by digital skills training are available to everyone, wherever they live, next year Google will visit 200 towns and cities across every region of the UK to deliver free, face to face digital coaching.
The Manchester Digital Garage is being delivered in partnership with the Manchester City Council, The Mayor and Greater Manchester Combined Authority, The Growth Company, Good Things Foundation and Which?.
Anyone can sign up for free classes at g.co/manchestergarage