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Facebook digital skills programme for SMEs

It’s not the strongest of the species who survive – it’s those who are most adaptable to change. Darwin’s observation about the animal world applies to business too.  Facebook is offering a digital skills programme for small-medium businesses designed to help them to adapt their capabilities.

In today’s world a lack of digital skills can seriously hold back a business. Lloyds Bank’s annual UK Business Digital Index has revealed that while performance is improving, 1.6 million British small businesses still lacked what they called basic digital skills. Lloyds believes that being ‘better at digital’ is the key to achieving a better balance sheet.

The Federation of Small Businesses fears that unless a lack of digital skills in SMEs is addressed, UK productivity growth will continue to suffer – its research found that 30% of small businesses struggled to recruit new workers due to serious skills shortages during the previous year. It’s timely then that Facebook has offered their digital skills programme for SMEs.

Facebook launches digital skills training programme for British small businesses

Facebook has said that it wants to work alongside small businesses and startups to help them grow by gaining the new digital skills they need. At the beginning of 2018 Facebook announced its programme to equip workers in the EU with improved digital skills – its aim is to have trained an ambitious 1 million people and business owners across the EU by 2020.

The internet giant said it was offering the training to help businesses expand their digital footprint and find new customers, taking advantage of the internet’s reach around the world. Face-to-face training is to be offered to 100,000 SMEs by 2020 and online training for 250,000 businesses.

It’s all part of Facebook’s ongoing investment in digital training – they claim to have invested over $1 billion supporting small businesses worldwide. Facebook has already helped many SMEs to increase sales through use of their platform – more than 70 million small businesses already use their free ‘Pages’ tool to maintain an online presence.

The benefits of increasing digital skills in your company

Digital capabilities can be vital to your firm’s success. Internet skills, online security and general digital literacy all add to a thriving business.

 Some of the benefits include:

  • Exploit e-commerce to increase sales – improved digital skills will allow your business to take advantage of the boom in online shopping which is increasing year on year.
  • Marketing through social media – you can improve customer awareness and interaction through social media marketing.
  • Increase international sales – online sales allow you to reach new customers worldwide and expand your customer base.
  • Save time and costs – by being online you can save costs through automated sales, ordering and payment processes.
  • Develop skills to prevent online fraud and scams – digital know-how amongst your employees reduces online scams and fraud.
  • Future-proof your business – by increasing the digital knowledge of your employees you’ll be increasing their skillset and experience. This means your business will be better placed to thrive and keep up with future developments and changes in your sector.
  • Use your apprentices – the new Apprenticeship Levy has offered firms encouragement to employ more apprentices. Already media savvy apprentices can acquire additional digital skills which benefit your business, as well as providing upskilling opportunities for other employees.

The way forward for SMEs

Firms are well advised to look into what the Facebook programme has to offer. Develop a formal training plan and build this into work schedules. It is common for managers to feel that employees are too busy but it may cost you in the long run if you keep delaying the upskilling of your staff. Above all, you risk your firm being left behind without the digital know-how and customers turning elsewhere.