Independent retailers and businesses are being offered free help to build digital skills in light of Covid-19.

Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership is funding 120 places to bridge the digital skills gap for small independent retailers and businesses, including hospitality and leisure. The Digital Skills for Business training will be delivered by Clockwork City and will include 1 to 1 training sessions via zoom, mentoring and phone and online support. Businesses will be able to gain better understanding of how to use social media to promote their services and how to increase online discoverability and visibility.

The Digital Skills for Business training is part of GBSLEP’s second wave of its business support scheme called Step Forward, focused on resilience and recovery to aid local businesses in light of Covid-19. Last year 30 businesses were helped by the Digital Skills for Business training with all of them saying it had a positive impact on profitability and productivity.

Sarah Grocutt from SG Tutoring said, “Since attending Clockwork City’s Digital skills training my Website is more efficient, I have more international presence and more new customers.”

Sarmite Lasmane who runs Sarma Rugs said, “I feel much more confident and professional operating with social media like LinkedIn and Twitter.”

Vernon Hogg from Hadleigh Management Limited said,” The benefits I have seen to my business already are an increase in followers and I have developed a LinkedIn business page.”

Any independent business in retail can apply from the GBSLEP region which covers Birmingham, Solihull, Cannock Chase, East Staffordshire, Lichfield, Tamworth, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Wyre Forest.

Louise Brooke Smith, GBSLEP Board Director for Place said, “Businesses within Greater Birmingham and Solihull have faced huge challenges during Covid-19, in particular independent retailers and services across our town and local centres. “With continuing restrictions footfall is low and that’s why it is important for us to provide businesses with the right tool-kit to get online. Having a digital presence means that you can connect with your customers and continue relationships as well as create opportunities to trade. Last year’s Digital Skills training was invaluable for those who took part which is why we have expanded the number of training places in this round from 30 to 120.

“GBSLEP is committed to creating opportunities for economic growth and we will do whatever we can to ensure businesses build resilience so they can survive the pandemic.”

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