Lloyds To 'Drive SME IT Progression'

Lloyds Banking Group Will Help SMEs To Improve Their IT Skills

18.07.2014

Lloyds Banking Group has been announced as the firm through which the government will launch an IT skills drive.

The collaboration between public sector agencies, Lloyds and digital skills charity Go ON UK will aim to reduce the number of people in the UK without any IT knowhow by 25 per cent by 2016.

According to the bank, which is the only financial institution in the UK to sit on the Digital Inclusion Delivery Board, the first step in this effort will be to establish where SMEs and charities currently lack the capabilities to help employees or dependents learn the basics of computers, smartphones and tablets.

After the gaps have been identified, Lloyds will provide funding and support to help address the issues as part of an attempt to ensure people from lower income backgrounds are given a chance of entering the increasingly internet-focused economy.

Figures from the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index recently showed that as many as 1.7 million organisations in the UK have a "very low level" of digital capability.

Further to this, it is estimated by the bank that over a third of all SMEs and charities don't have the basic online skills, preventing them from helping increasingly social media-connected teenagers.

Miguel-Angel Rodriguez-Sola, group director for digital, marketing & customer development at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We're proud to sit on the Digital Inclusion Delivery Board and chair this important piece of work for SMEs and charities.

"Through our partnership with Go ON UK, we understand the importance of digital and how valuable it can be for individuals, businesses and charities."

Lloyds' involvement in the digital scheme has been welcomed by Tristan Wilkinson, acting chief executive of Go ON UK, who said it would be "delighted" to work with the bank in helping more people to access IT skills.

Similar steps have also been taken by Barclays in recent months as part of its "Digital Eagles" campaign, where staff are trained to give customers lessons in basic IT tasks, including accessing Skype or emails.

Expert Opinion
There are significant opportunities emerging for SMEs in the current economic climate, so it is worrying to see that up to 1.7 million growing businesses may not have access to online tools which could make a huge difference to the success of their operations.

"Access to the internet and the opportunities which are offered by an online presence can be hugely important to small firms, helping them to actively and effectively compete with larger competitors to win new business and expand their operations.

"The use of online services can only be a positive thing, so will wholeheartedly welcome these efforts to improve understanding of this area. SMEs will need to consider however some of the potential pitfalls of an online presence, including the right branding and knowledge of the relevant data protection regulations. As a result, they should not delay in seeking advice from legal experts can offer further input on this issue."
Steven Beahan, Partner