Vodafone and Enterprise Nation to give free digital skills training to 100,000 small businesses

Vodafone and Enterprise Nation have today committed to give free, expert training to 100,000 small businesses to support the UK’s economic recovery. Vodafone and Enterprise Nation will provide extensive online training to help business owners boost their digital skills, adopt and make the best possible use of new technology, and stay safe online. This is the first initiative of the new business.connected campaign.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a significant rise in the need for businesses to get online. With physical premises and offices closing, teams were forced to work remotely, and shoppers left with no choice but to buy online.

The Vodafone and Enterprise Nation initiative will support 100,000 small businesses in developing the knowledge, skills and confidence to use digital tools to get the best out of their business.

Training focus

The training will focus on online essentials such as setting up a website, online trading, using collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, making the best decisions for your connectivity, and protecting yourself and customers from cyber-attacks. Different levels of training will be on offer to cater to those just starting their online journey as well as those looking to build on existing experience.

Research conducted by market research firm Atomik Research and commissioned by Vodafone finds that Britain’s small business community is being held back by a lack of digital skills:

- 25% of SMEs are not activating tech/app solutions after purchasing

- 34% of SMEs aren’t clear on which digital tools are right for their business needs

- 27% of SMEs haven’t taken any steps to learn new technology

- 41% of SMEs have not invested in digital tools

- Only 35% of SMEs have basic cybersecurity protections in place

Training will support four key areas for small businesses:

i. Productivity and collaboration – using communication and planning tools amongst employees to provide the foundations for the future of smart working

ii. Building a presence online – providing the know-how and skills to put businesses in front of new audiences

iii. Managing digital security – raising awareness of the risks that exist online, and how to ensure teams and customers stay safe

iv. Optimising connectivity – helping owners to choose the right connectivity options for new ways of running their business

The training, which will be accessed via the Vodafone V-Hub, will include live online workshops and webinars hosted by experts from the Vodafone and Enterprise Nation team, as well as one-to-one sessions with advisers, and independent training modules.

Helping 100,000 small businesses is the first commitment of Vodafone and Enterprise Nation’s new ‘business.connected’ campaign, which aims to support the UK’s economic recovery by boosting the digital skills of the small business community.

Andrew Stevens, Head of Small Business at Vodafone UK, said: “Whether we like it or not, the future of small business is to have an online presence, for teams and customers – but so many business owners just don’t have the experience to make that happen, let alone safely and in a way that gives a great customer experience. We are providing a complete support service, that helps businesses identify the right tools for them, activate them, and make the best use of them to improve their operation. We’re here to help Britain’s small business community, and I look forward to working with business owners and seeing the new opportunities they’re able to create for themselves as they venture online.”

Emma Jones, founder, Enterprise Nation, the UK's fastest-growing small business support network, said: “Some small businesses have reacted quickly to increase their exposure to and investment in digital tools - even a rough estimate would suggest we've seen ten years of digital adoption in under 12 months. What needs to happen now is to help those firms left behind, and see others supported so they can build a deeper understanding to make the most of their technology and use it more effectively and efficiently.

“This initiative with Vodafone will help firms make the right decision and make sure every penny spent is being put to good use. We want to help small businesses be better connected, work smarter and be more productive.”

Alice Spencer, Co-Founder of Yorkshire based business Play Makes Sense who develop sensory activity cards for children said: “The pandemic has illustrated the benefits of getting your business setup online, however getting started can be very daunting for small business owners. Businesses should take advantage of initiatives such as these as upskilling your digital capabilities will no doubt serve to benefit you in the long run.”

Sarah Barber, Founder of Staffordshire based bakery Scrumbles Cake Shop said: “Getting setup online can be very intimidating for many small business owners. These digital training initiatives from Vodafone will play a vital role in helping entrepreneurs get online and identify opportunities to aid their development.”.

Haley Wilkes, Owner of Angus based restaurant The WeeCook Kitchen said: “More than ever, it is vital small businesses get themselves online to safeguard their business for the long-term. We welcome initiatives such as these and implore as many small businesses take advantage of the online courses as possible.”

Despite the persistent challenges posed to businesses during the pandemic, the UK witnessed a surge in entrepreneurship in 2020 with record numbers of new start-ups (772,002) being formed. The rise in remote working is expected to drive similar figures in 2021.

All business.connected courses will go live on Thursday 27th May, if you’re a SME business who is keen to adopt a robust digital strategy for you own organisation visit https://www.vodafone.co.uk/business/sme-business/business-connected to register.