Omagh Enterprise Company welcomed all the Digital Change Makers projects partners to Omagh, Northern Ireland for the initial two-day meeting of the project. It was a highly productive meeting around a topic of very significant importance, not just in the UK but across Europe. Doctor Nick O’Shiel from Omagh Enterprise was the Chair for the meeting ensuring everyone stayed awake and the meeting progressed as per the Agenda.

Nick went on to explain that Web 2.0, cloud computing and smartphones/tablets are transformative technologies for entrepreneurs, and we know that small businesses risk being left behind unless they have the skills to take advantage of technology to remain competitive and responsive to their customers. However, over two-thirds of all small businesses (67%) do not invest in digital skills (Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2017) and the Federation of Small Businesses has warned that UK productivity growth will continue to stall unless action is taken to tackle the digital skills deficit in small businesses.

He highlighted that to remedy this situation, Digital Change Makers aims to improve the ability and motivation of Business Advisors to use digital tools in their training and mentoring. In doing so, they will not only increase the overall effectiveness of the learning outcomes (across all areas of entrepreneurship training), they will also become agents of change to improve the digital competences of entrepreneurs & SMEs.

In order to achieve this objective, we will:

  1. Develop a Good Practice Guide (IO1) to introduce business advisors to the value of using and teaching digital competences to entrepreneurs and SMEs
  2. Create a Digital Changemakers Toolkit (IO2) providing them with practical guidance on how to incorporate 20 of the best digital (online) learning tools into their work
  3. Craft an online learning course (IO3) to consolidate advisors’ skills and confidence in using mobile and digital learning resources and their ability to recommend digital solutions to their clients.
  4. Engage business advisors and VET organizations in the development of the above, train the first group of Changemakers, in order to facilitate the mainstreaming of systematic professional development opportunities for the business advisory community on this topic.

The needs explained above refer specifically to the following target groups, who will be addressed in the project:

  1. Business advisors, comprising enterprise trainers, lecturers, business coaches etc.
  2. The VET organisations they work for, from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors providing enterprise development education, training and support;
  3. Small businesses, encompassing early stage entrepreneurs and established soletraders, micro and small enterprises.
  4. Entrepreneurship & education policy makers & stakeholder