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BT launches new support for SMEs in Scotland


Small and medium sized businesses in Glasgow are being given the chance to learn vital digital skills for free. BT is working with Google Digital Garage to deliver the training.

The sessions are part of BT’s Skills for Tomorrow initiative - a major new programme designed to empower 10 million people by giving them the skills they need to flourish for the digital future. BT has collaborated with leading digital skills organisations to collate the best courses and information, in one easy to navigate place, with these free resources available to anyone. Everyone is included - from school children to older people; from young adults looking for employment; to SMEs looking for growth.

At BT’s first Scottish Skills for Tomorrow training event for SMEs held at Glasgow Science Centre, hundreds of businesses received expert advice on how to build a digital marketing plan; how to use data analytics to find new insights; and how to ensure greater visibility online. Event leaders also covered areas such as growing a business internationally and utilising social media to reach new customers.

This comes off the back of BT’s latest research tapping into SME opportunities and challenges, heading into the New Year. Almost 30 per cent of SMEs agree that acquiring the right digital skills in business and enhancing online presence is a key challenge in the next 12 months. And, almost 40 per cent of Scottish SMEs believe that BT should play a role in providing digital skills training.

Scotland faces a digital skills gap, which is having a profound impact on the country. The rapid pace of change is leaving people behind – as many as 11.3m UK adults and 10% of the UK workforce lack basic digital skills. The tech sector is forecast to be the fastest growing sector in Scotland to 2024, in terms of GVA – growing more than twice as fast as the economy overall. This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy an estimated £63bn a year, according to BT’s latest Digital Impact and Sustainability Report.

Chris Sims, Managing Director, SME, BT, said: “In this digital era, the fact is, every SME needs to be a technology business to succeed. But, as our research indicates, many SMEs struggle to keep up with the pace of technology. We believe that the key to closing the digital divide is in empowering SMEs with the right tools to radically improve operations and cement business success.”

Akash Chopra, co-founder of Vuabl, who attended the event said: "Today’s event provided a useful taster of the digital skills any business needs and it’s great that BT is helping businesses take advantage of the latest technology. Our virtual reality property company, Vuabl, brings a fully immersive 3D experience to property hunters and our growth depends on us reaching our target markets around the world.”

Another attendee, Pamela Kennedy, owner of Adore Baby who design and make Christening wear for babies all over the world, said: “Being a small e-commerce business, keeping up-to-date with current digital marketing trends is vital to the continuing success of our company. The speakers were great and had a wealth of knowledge, leaving me excited to implement some of the many ideas.”

The event coincides with BT’s new services and commitments to Scottish businesses, including free upgrades to superfast fibre broadband and a new team of specialist Tech Experts for small business customers. This team will carry out personalised set-up of products and services that are most critical to the running of each customer’s business.

BT supports thousands of SMEs in Scotland who play an important part in the economic success of the nation. Ensuring that businesses can best take advantage of digital services, BT is investing and using its local presence to provide the best collaboration, connectivity, and security services, with 24/7 customer support anywhere in the world through new business support teams.

By upgrading more than 70,000 homes and businesses in Scotland to superfast broadband by summer 2020 at no extra cost, BT is giving customers faster, more reliable connections – boosting their average speeds from around 10Mbps to 50Mbps and providing better Wi-Fi through upgraded Smart Hubs. BT has also stopped selling standard broadband connections on the legacy BT copper network to 90% of the UK. For the 10% that cannot get superfast connections today, BT will use all available technologies to provide the fastest connections possible including 4G and 5G broadband, and full fibre.

BT was one of the first mobile providers in the UK to launch 5G mobile plans, ahead of other major networks, giving businesses faster, more reliable mobile connections. Built on the EE 5G network, the first and largest in the UK, customers in Edinburgh and Glasgow can now enjoy speeds typically 100-150 Mbps faster than 4G connections even in the busiest areas. EE has 5G in more places in the UK than other network, and is targeting 5G connectivity in 45 UK cities and large towns by the end of the year.

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