Last month, Google UK set up a pop-up digital training school in Port Talbot’s St Paul’s Centre, where local business-owners, start-ups, employees and eager students were invited to attend one of 14 online training classes through Google’s Digital Garage initiative.
Partnering with Neath Port Talbot Council and the Welsh Government’s Port Talbot Enterprise Zone, the Digital Garage attracted a number of VIPs to the opening event including First Minister, Carwyn Jones and Google’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Peter Barron.
The Digital Garage is a multimillion pound initiative to help 200,000 British businesses outside of London learn digital skills and grow faster by 2016, and has already passed through major cities such as Glasgow, Leeds and Birmingham.
Participants were able to sign up for free to attend as many free sessions as they wished on modules such as ‘Telling Your Story Online’, ‘Stay Safe Online’ and ‘Know your Business with Google Analytics’.
Free one-to-one mentoring with a Google Digital Garage expert was also available over the duration of the pop-up’s stay in Port Talbot for personalised advice and guidance.
Council Leader, Ali Thomas OBE said:
“Our partnership with Google’s Digital Garage will provide opportunities for local businesses to transform the way that they work and provide additional and more diverse employment opportunities within the County Borough.
“We have a robust digital strategy in place at Neath Port Talbot Council which will ensure our residents and businesses can compete and prosper in the digital world and events like this further demonstrate our commitment to making this happen.”
Fiona Rickson, co-owner of Cwmshon Cottages in Pontardawe attended several of the free sessions to find out how to increase her presence online.
“I came away from the Digital Garage buzzing with new ideas”, said Fiona.
“My business has become successful in part due to my willingness to learn digital skills – something I lacked prior to starting my business six years ago when I was totally unfamiliar with IT.
“Digital technology is a fast moving and constantly changing field; it’s important for small business owners to keep up with the latest developments and support that is out there for us.”
Google also invited UK computer science charity, Raspberry Pi to set up shop at the Digital Garage and hold a coding session for Duffryn Comprehensive schoolchildren, where they learned basic computer science skills using Raspberry Pi’s very own credit card-sized computers.
Computer science was added to primary school curriculums in 2014 to equip children with the skills they need to succeed in the rapidly evolving digital future and encourage creativity through computer science.
Helen Drury, Outreach & Events Manager for Raspberry Pi Foundation said: Our goal is to advance education in computer science. As well as providing free resources we also offer free teacher training and regularly take part in outreach events such as the Digital Garage in Port Talbot.
We rely on involvement from our community of volunteers in addition to our staff, and were very happy to have PiCymru assisting us on the Thursday as well as Code Club running coding activities on the Friday.”
The Google Digital Garage can be found in Cardiff’s Tramshed for four months from Monday 28th November.