April 22, 2016 @ 7:55 by Alison Cowie
Google has announced that it is opening a pop-up Digital Garage in Newcastle City Library, where it will deliver free digital skills training.
Opening today (April 22), the Garage will employ experts to provide one-to-one mentoring and digital masterclasses five days a week.
Google is inviting anybody who wants to learn the skills they need to make the most of the web to pop by the Garage for a ‘digital tune-up’. This could be anyone from locals looking to improve their career prospects and vocational skills, to small businesses looking to grow online. More than 90 per cent of jobs will require digital literacy in the near future  and small companies can grow twice as fast when they have a strong web presence, so it is crucial that both employers and employees keep up to date with the opportunities presented by online technology.
Over 88 per cent of businesses that have previously attended a training session at The Digital Garage state that they have changed the way they run or promote their business online; 68 per cent of people surveyed say they’ve seen positive results – in either increased sales, bookings, web traffic or social media following – after Google’s free training.
The Digital Garage will also host bespoke training events for charities, computer science education sessions for local students and teachers, and a range of other activities delivered in partnership with local organisations. Outside of the City Library, the team of digital trainers will visit the other districts of Newcastle and conduct training and mentoring in local communities where there is a demand.
The initiative is part of a multi-million pound investment outside of London, and aims to be a growth engine for 250,000 Brits – giving them crucial skills for the digital age. In an additional effort to help ensure that young people acquire the computing skills needed to succeed in the future, Google.org has also invested in computer science in partnership with Code Club Pro, Computing at Schools (CAS) and Raspberry Pi to support training for thousands of teachers.
Eileen Naughton, Google’s managing director for UK & Ireland said: “In the digital age, a basic understanding of how the online world works is useful; and when it comes to business, it’s essential. We are bringing the Google Garage to Newcastle because we believe Google can be a growth engine for businesses all across the UK — from start-ups to established companies. We are also welcoming individuals, be they recent graduates or aspiring entrepreneurs, to attend seminars at the Garage and learn more about how digital can help them grow.”
The Digital Garage in Newcastle is being delivered in partnership with Newcastle City Library,
Newcastle City Council, North East LEP and the North East Business & IP Centre.
Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central and Shadow Minister for Culture & the Digital Economy said: “Newcastle’s future economy will be digitally driven, I want everyone to be able to benefit from the fantastic opportunities digital is bringing so I urge all local businesses to take full advantage of the new Google Digital Garage, which offers free training and advice from online experts.”
Cllr Joyce McCarty, Deputy Leader and digital lead for Newcastle City Council, said: “We are delighted that Google has chosen Newcastle to become one of only a handful of other cities in the country to benefit from the skill set and experience of its Google Garage.
“Over the next three months the advice and guidance provided will be priceless for a variety of local people and their businesses; with the City Library being an ideal location at the heart of the City Centre. It also reflects how technology plays a big part in how organisations operate, especially at a time when the Council is introducing a new Go Digital Newcastle scheme to encourage residents and the business community to embrace the digital age in day-to-day activities across the City.”
Anyone in Newcastle who wants to improve their digital skills can sign up for workshops and events organised by Google and its partners on the following website: g.co/NewcastleGarage. The Digital Garage will be open until the beginning of July 2016.