New digital skills initiative provides lifeline for small businesses

Press Releases 27 Aug 2020

A new free hub to boost their online skills and drive their businesses forward has been launched today by Make It Click

  • 47% of small business owners have suffered a significant loss of earnings as a result of the pandemic
  • Federation of Small Businesses and Government support new hub to drive small businesses forward post lockdown

As new research reveals that 73%1 of small business owners agree that online/IT skills are essential for their business to thrive, a new free hub to boost their online skills and drive their businesses forward has been launched today by Make It Click, a charitable skills initiative.

A poll of over 500 UK small businesses2 and sole traders by Make It Click, which is being delivered by social change charity Good Things Foundation, found almost half (47%) have suffered a significant loss of earnings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. To help keep their businesses competitive, 66% of business owners agree they will need to continually update their online/IT skills, yet almost a third (32%) say they would not know where to go to get them. 

The new Make It Click small business hub, which is supported by the Federation of Small Businesses, offers small businesses an easy and convenient way to boost their online and IT skills. It includes a wealth of free online learning resources to help business owners and their employees increase their digital know-how and confidence. Skills range from beginner courses on word processing to social media marketing and online accounting, which were the top skills small business owners said would help to boost their business during the pandemic.3

Helen Milner OBE, chief executive of Good Things Foundation said: “This a challenging time for people who run small businesses, as they cope with the huge impact of the  COVID-19 pandemic and juggle so much at work and at home whilst keeping afloat and helping the nation’s recovery.2 We know that digital skills deliver growth and jobs, and for many  small businesses a lack of digital skills is holding them back. Our new resources are vital to help small businesses recover and build skills and resilience, and our small business hub offers free support to improve digital skills and help small businesses achieve their goals. I hope our new hub can help small businesses feel more confident about their future.”

Digital skills are more important than ever and provide a lifeline for businesses as they adapt to a ‘new normal’. The new resources are backed by the Government, forming part of The Skills Toolkit published by Government and key industry partners.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “I have been so impressed by how small business owners across the country have risen to the challenges posed by coronavirus, adapting the way they do things in really tough circumstances.

“The Make It Click initiative, which is part of the government’s Skills Toolkit, will help ensure businesses and their employees have the digital skills they need to rebuild and grow as we enter the next phase of our recovery from the pandemic.”

Mike Cherry OBE, National Chairman of Federation of Small Businesses said: “Delivering support to help small businesses increase their digital skills is crucial. The pandemic is making this even more of a priority; FSB research found that in early lockdown, around 40 per cent of small businesses adopted or increased their use of digital technologies.

“Alongside supporting this new skills hub, we are asking Government to widen the definition of ‘R&D’ and introduce digital vouchers for small businesses to make it easier for them to adopt digital technologies. Many small firms already rely on Google and the UK’s growing tech sector, and now want to find new ways to boost small businesses’ digital growth.  I’m pleased to see this happening through this new Google-funded Make It Click initiative.”

Mike Adams OBE, CEO of Purple, a small business changing the disability conversation with businesses and disabled people said: “As a result of COVID-19 we had to change overnight from being office-based and customer-facing, to working remotely and connecting with our customers virtually. This has been an almighty challenge in terms of IT resilience, skilling up staff and helping our customers, many of whom are digital novices, navigate the virtual world.

Since the pandemic, digital skills have gone from being ‘nice to have’ to essential and we wouldn’t have survived if we hadn’t quickly adapted. Over the next 12 months our focus is to develop a digital skills training programme to ensure each of our employees deepens their IT knowledge. Make It Click will form an essential component of this as its resources are extensive and its flexible learning approach makes it easy to implement.”

Small businesses can access Make It Click’s free skills hub for small businesses by visiting www.makeitclick.com/business via a smartphone, tablet or computer. Online support is available through a network of more than 160 centres across the UK. Support in person will be available once lockdown measures ease and enable centres to open.

 

Good Things Foundation has been funded by Google.org - the philanthropic arm of the tech company - to deliver the Make It Click programme, which launched nationwide this year. 

ENDS

For more information please contact the Make It Click team at Barley Communications:

Maria Kortbech – [email protected]; 07952 507270

Betty Nwosu – [email protected]; 07949 269189

Notes to editors 

  1. Poll of 503 UK small business owners/sole traders by Censuswide between 01.06.2020-03.06.2020. 
  2. Polling of a nationally representative sample of 2,003 UK adults aged 16+ conducted by Censuswide between 05.06.2020 and 07.06.2020. This included a representative sample of small businesses and sole traders. Just 10% of small business owners said their job had been unaffected by the pandemic.
  3. Top online/IT skills small businesses have or plan to do to boost their business during the pandemic from the poll of 503 UK small business owners/sole traders by Censuswide between 01.06.2020-03.06.2020. 

 

 

Online/ IT Skill

%

1

Have or plan to learn how to use standard office/admin skills [e.g. word processing, spread sheets, email] to better manage the business. 

61% 

2

Have or plan to ensure they market the business' existing social media profiles effectively. 

55% 

3

Have or plan to learn how to set-up social media business accounts to help them market more effectively. 

53% 

4

Have or plan to set-up online accounting systems to help keep better track of finances. 

51% 

5

Have or plan to set-up communication systems [e.g. email newsletters/flyers]. 

 

50% 

6

Have or plan to learn how to set-up a website for their business for the first time [e.g. online shop]. 

49% 

7

Have or plan to learn how to set-up a website/online portfolio to help them market more effectively. 

49% 

8

Have or plan to set-up a new customer database/spreadsheet. 

 

48% 

9

Have or plan to learn to offer their services to a new audience [e.g. selling to consumers rather than businesses]. 

47% 

10

Have or plan to set-up new IT systems to enable themselves/employees to work from home. 

41% 

11

Have or plan to learn to set-up their business to sell products/services via larger networks [e.g. Amazon, eBay]. 

39% 

12

Have or plan to set-up design software to design marketing materials. 

38% 

 

About Make it Click

Make It Click is a collection of free online learning resources for anyone who wants to improve their digital skills. It is part of the Government’s Skills Toolkit and run by the social change charity Good Things Foundation. The Make It Click programme has been funded by Google.org - the philanthropic arm of the tech company.

Make it Click focuses on helping the UK’s 7 million limited digital users - people who are online but have limited digital skills and use the internet in a limited way. This is a group which has lacked support to date, and Make It Click has been developed by listening to what limited users need. People using the services can either learn skills online/at home or visit one of hundreds of Online Centres that support the programme. 

Make It Click’s quality, up-to-date and reliable resources include free courses, tools and templates on a range of topics, from social media to online job searching and email. A range of organisations from large businesses to small community groups are using Make It Click to create a movement that will help limited users thrive in a digital world. 

About Good Things Foundation

Good Things Foundation is a social change charity, helping people to improve their lives through digital. Through thousands of Network partners in communities across the UK, Good Things Foundation helps people gain the support and skills they need to change their lives, and believes that everyone in the UK should have the confidence, skills, support and access to use digital technology, participate in society and benefit from the digital world.

For more information on Good Things Foundation visit www.goodthingsfoundation.org

About Federation of Small Businesses

FSB is the UK’s biggest business membership organisation and the voice of small business and the self-employed. It offers its members a wide range of vital business services, including legal advice, financial expertise, cyber protection and a powerful voice heard in governments at all levels. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk.

About FSB

As the UK’s largest business support group, FSB is the voice of the UK’s small businesses and the self-employed. Established over 40 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by its members, for its members. As the UK’s leading business campaigner, FSB is focused on delivering change which supports smaller businesses to grow and succeed.

FSB offers members a wide range of vital business services, including access to finance, business banking, legal advice and support along with a powerful voice in Government. Each year FSB also runs the UK’s Celebrating Small Business Awards. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk. You can follow us on twitter @fsb_policy and on Instagram @fsb_uk.

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