April 2020
Welcome to the fourth edition of the Digital Skills Partnership newsletter. We hope you are all keeping well and safe. As we face new challenges, it has become more important than ever to rally together to support each other and our communities. 
We have been uplifted and inspired by the rapid, innovative work of our partners. New initiatives and information hubs have been developed to support businesses and individuals navigate these uncertain times and we
 will continue to share a selection of these resources with you through this newsletter.

We are keen to collaborate with you on this newsletter and welcome you to share your thoughts, experiences and concerns. Please do let us know what would be of most value to you and we encourage you to share it with your networks. New subscribers can sign-up here
Whether you are facing particular challenges, or are developing new initiatives to support people during this time, please get in touch with us at, citing 'DSP' in the subject line.
A Message from the Minister for Digital & Culture, Caroline Dinenage

"Thank you to everyone involved in the Digital Skills Partnership for your continued hard work in driving forward programmes that are needed now more than ever. My Department is eager to support the great initiatives taking place around the country to help make sure as many people as possible can benefit in these difficult times. I encourage tech firms to keep innovating, problem solving and giving the country the tools and connectivity needed to work remotely so that we can all stay home, protect the NHS and save lives."

Government Covid-19 guidance
Government has introduced a range of measures to support businesses and individuals during this time:
Can you help us?
DevicesDotNow: Getting the most vulnerable online  

Supported by DCMS, FutureDotNow has developed a new initiative, DevicesDotNow, to support the most vulnerable get online as we face the Covid-19 pandemic. The new initiative is targeting the 1.7 million households which don’t have access to the internet and are digitally excluded.

Can your organisation help? The DevicesDotNow campaign is asking
businesses to donate tablets, smartphones and laptops, as well as connectivity in the form of sim cards, dongles and mobile hotspots. Find out more here
Call for case studies  

DCMS and the Digital Skills Partnership are looking to profile positive stories and case studies highlighting how technology is empowering and supporting communities and businesses in today’s challenging and unprecedented circumstances. Do you and your stakeholders have a positive story to share? Please get in touch.

Resources for businesses
Our Digital Skills Partnership stakeholders and partners have been developing vital Covid-19 online hubs, collating key information to support businesses and different sectors during this time. The below signposts to a selection of available online guidance, developed by DSP partners:

Advice, guidance and webinars

  • The Federation for Small Businesses are regularly updating their Covid-19 advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed. Keep an eye out for their regular webinars, developed by the FSB policy team. 
  • The CBI's hub shares daily global insights and analysis to help businesses respond to the pandemic, as well as daily webinars on a range of business topics from cyber security to access to finance. The hub helps businesses to understand how they can support the national effort, and highlights how the CBI is working with government to deliver for business.
  • Enterprise Nation's support hub enables small businesses to connect with hundreds of advisers, offering free consultation calls on topics including law, insurance, sales and cashflow. If you are interested in becoming an adviser, please contact Polly Dhaliwal at
  • For the tech sector: 
    • Take a look at Tech Nation's info hub, which has useful resources and blogs collated from the tech community.
    • TechUK's hub includes advice and resources to help the tech sector mitigate the impact of Covid-19, as well as guidance on how the tech community can support communities and the NHS during this time. 
    • Tech London Advocates recently launched their resource hub, which includes a directory of Advocates volunteering their time to support tech companies during this time.
  • Charities on their digital transformation journey may find Catalyst's practical and how to articles useful.

Remote working tips and staying safe

  • Ethical IT business and chair of the Heart of South West Local DSP Board, Cosmic, has developed a remote working advice toolkit to support businesses build successful collaborative working practices.
  • Google has created a site with free resources to help people work, run their business, learn or teach from home. See G Suite training resources here.
    • They are also working to provide extended G Suite trials for organisations that would most benefit from this technology in the view of the crisis. Please get in touch if this is of interest.
    • Small businesses may be interested in this online resource, which includes guidance on communicating with customers and employees, working remotely, modifying advertising, and more.
  • In response to the need for employees to work from home, Microsoft is offering a free 6-month trial of its Office 365 E1 license for customers who do not already have access to Microsoft Teams, Office 365 and Microsoft 365. This includes access to Microsoft Teams to enable collaboration and communication, as well as various productivity tools.
Staying connected, supporting your wellbeing and good news stories
  • Citizens Online has curated a list of resources to help us stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues, including guidance on how best to support the elderly and vulnerable.  
  • Tech We Can has launched a range of online lesson plans for parents and carers teaching at home. The 12 free lesson plans are designed to encourage young people to consider a career in technology. You can register here
  • Stemettes are running a series of online events, including digital-focussed tutorials on HTML, Python and Agile, primarily targeting young women.
  • See Mental Health UK’s guidance for tips on looking after your mental health and wellbeing during this time.
  • Keep an eye out for DCMS' daily Twitter updates, highlighting inspiring stories of people working to combat loneliness, staying active at home, and getting their cultural fix virtually. #StayHomeSaveLives
Updates from the Local Digital Skills Partnerships

“In response to Covid-19, support and communication for the Cheshire and Warrington LEP’s stakeholders is through our Growth Hub. Daily newsletters are being sent to all stakeholders and information is updated at least daily on the Growth Hub website.  Business intelligence is being captured via a survey and through discussions with our stakeholders.

“We have collated and shared links to tools and online training materials to support remote learning for businesses and schools. To ensure we can continue to support digital skills development, we are already looking at more online learning and streaming opportunities for employers and trainers to live broadcast from a safe workplace direct to students from local schools or colleges and to employees.” 

Sarah Williams, Regional Coordinator for Cheshire & Warrington

“The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Digital Skills Partnership is working closely with our Growth Hub and LEP, and we are encouraging businesses to complete a short online survey to understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Our Digital Skills Advisory Board has created a ‘Slack’ channel where we can connect and collaborate on projects and online resources related to our DSP core goals and provide support to our businesses and communities. We are in the process of pulling together information on digital tools, remote working, online resources and online training for digital skills for businesses and education. This will be available via the LEP and Growth Hub websites.” 

Ben Bolton, Regional Coordinator for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

The Heart of the South West Digital Skills Partnership had led the regional coordination of digital news, helping businesses, organisations and individuals move to remote working and learning, while signposting to digital resources that help upskill. This information is shared through our newsletter (read our first edition here and the latest edition here) and cascaded through District and Local Authority Economic Development teams, Business Groups, Schools and Charities. The digital sector has responded swiftly to this crisis and we are therefore expecting to send out regular newsletters as new webinars, peer-to-peer blogs and resources are released. If your organisation has resources you’d like to include, please get in touch!

We’re also looking to encourage our local organisations to blog and share inspiration of what’s worked and what hasn’t, as they’ve either moved their processes online or put in place new processes that limit face-to-face contact. Then, as the initial change to home working  settles down, we are in discussions to establish: digital buddy volunteers, setting up a weekly webinar with expert speakers, and a IT hardware repurposing and recycling scheme. We’ll also be looking to see if some of the projects that are paused due to Covid-19 can be repurposed to short digital support interventions to help organisations both now and in the immediate phase following lockdown.”

Charlotte Collyer, Regional Coordinator for the Heart of South West
In Lancashire, the LEP and Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub are working with the Lancashire's Growth Hub, Boost, to create a coordinated response with one voice to support businesses as they feel the effects of Covid-19.  An #AskForHelp service has been established, which is available to all businesses and a call line set up so that businesses are able to access our team of expert business advisers across Lancashire. Support includes resilience guides, government updates and support and advice for partners. There is also information about support via webinars and virtual drop-in sessions. The Growth Hub is also working proactively with partners across Lancashire to mobilise support through local authorities and business intermediaries, and is collecting information about challenges through a business survey. The message is clear – you are not alone in this!

“In parallel the Local DSP is supporting the offer through the Growth Hub by bringing together digital offers which are supporting businesses to adapt to the new environment. This includes supporting businesses to make effective use of digital tools to enable remote working. The LDSP website has been adapted to allow easy access to this support for businesses, as well as other support which is aligned to our priority themes such as the unemployed and young people.  In addition, working with the Enterprise Adviser Network and Careers Hub, support is being given to schools and colleges to access digital tools to support distance learning at home, and to enable careers provision to be delivered remotely. The Lancashire Skills Hub is also currently working on a facility to support businesses to undertake 'skills swaps' – a tool is currently being trialled to help facilitate this, with support from refocusing ESF projects to enable skills to be moved around the local economy to meet business needs in critical areas such as retail, logistics and health and social care.”

Kerry Harrison, Regional Coordinator for Lancashire
“SELEP is working closely with all regional business support organisations to ensure that businesses are kept up to date with developments. The website is continually updated and our newsletter and new Covid-19 briefings are disseminated via all our networks. The Local DSP has contacted all local partners to request information about tools and resources on offer to help organisations continue to function throughout the Covid-19 outbreak and we’ve added a list to the DSP website that will be constantly updated. We are also convening a Covid-19 group, as part of the wider DSP, that will help lead our response to the pandemic. In addition, we are sending out a short survey to understand the gaps that respondents have identified (in terms of digital skills support) and we will work with local and national DSP partners to address them.”

James Wilkinson, Regional Coordinator for the South East
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Digital Skills Partnership have launched two websites for residents seeking support from their local communities or wanting to learn new skills during this public health emergency. Residents in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton can click on an interactive map at the WMCA Community Support Hub for information about charity, faith and voluntary services in their area. We have also launched a separate website to help local individuals and businesses develop new skills and increase their resilience while they are working from home. Residents can access the new community support website with links to online learning resources. At the WMCA’s Covid-19 support site, local people can access free practical courses and materials on topics ranging from online and mobile banking for individuals, to marketing for businesses.

“Other resources include training in digital skills development, childcare and education, and leadership and employability skills. The hub also offers health and wellbeing advice to help people adjust to working at home. The Digital Skills Partnership released a newsletter with information on tools for remote working, which can be accessed here.”

Marika Beckford, Regional Coordinator for the West Midlands
Online learning: digital skills training
There is a wide range of online learning offers and digital skills training platforms to support individuals upskill during this time. We have highlighted below a small sample of some of these offers, developed by DSP partners, from basic to more advanced courses:
Lloyds Bank Academy features free digital skills learning for any level. They also have a variety of resources for businesses including guides on engaging customers, generating revenue and improving operations. Not sure where to start? Their 12 helper toolkits covering topics such as managing money, safety and security online and using social media.
BT's Skills for Tomorrow programme provides support for people with low or no digital skills, small businesses, parents and teachers.
The Data Skills Taskforce, supported by DCMS, has created a free online platform providing access to content for SMEs to help develop their data skills. The platform has a self-assessment tool that helps you understand your organisational and technical readiness with respect to data, and signposts you to relevant resources and training.
Good Things Foundation's Learn My Way platform provides free online courses for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world. It also offers Make It Click: a collection of online learning resources including courses, tools and templates carefully picked from established websites with a track record of providing reliable digital skills content.
FutureLearn offers credible and flexible online courses. You can find a range of courses in various subject areas including IT and Computer Science. For those who want to know more about the Covid-19 pandemic, please see this course from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
Interested in digital skills? The Institute of Coding have co-designed a range of industry-inspired courses in conjunction with employers and educators.
If you would like any more information, or would like to find out our Covid-19 response work, please do get in touch with us at, citing 'DSP' in the subject line. We'd also welcome your feedback on the newsletter – do let us know what you would like to see in future editions. 
Copyright © 2019 The Digital Skills Partnership, All rights reserved.

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