Did you know, 11.3 million UK adults lack basic digital skills, and are more likely to be unemployed or isolated, have lower income and poorer health? Businesses also lack digital skills: 16% of SMEs have low digital capability, 41% of sole traders fall within the low digital capability bracket, missing out on an extra £24,000 of turnover per year, and only 58% of SMEs have all five basic digital skills.
Digital exclusion is amplified in rural communities - 11% of rural premises in England still cannot get access to a good broadband connection, compared to 1% of urban premises, for example.
Good Things Foundation is aiming to change this. Our previous work with the Prince’s Countryside Fund explored how community organisations can act as champions for digital enterprises, engaging those in rural communities that other services find hard to reach.
Our reports have shown this model is effective, so for the next phase of the project, we're building on the evidence we have already created to explore what it takes to scale these models across rural communities.
The project aims to create thriving rural communities underpinned by thriving rural enterprises. Strong rural economies are good for jobs, people and social capital.
By addressing a key barrier to business growth in rural communities - a lack of digital skills and sometimes digital connectivity - the project will help more rural businesses grow and/or be sustainable. This will have knock-on benefits of increasing jobs, connections and the strength of local community infrastructure.
The project will explore how Digital Enterprise Hubs can both support rural businesses to engage with digital, and train community organisations as Digital Enterprise Champions; who in turn will also support rural businesses with digital skills. In doing so, the project will create the capacity in rural economies to increase the amount of support available for rural businesses in the future. This will be critical for learning from the project.
If you or someone you know needs support in one of these areas, why not get in touch to find out how they could help? The two Digital Hubs are: