A PROJECT supporting local women to improve and develop business and digital skills has been given the seal of approval after a visit from a Government minister.
Led by the East Sussex County Council Broadband Team, the Swift project offers a bespoke digital and business skills training programme that supports people to develop the skills and knowledge needed to set up and run business ventures.
It also enables participants to take full advantage of the upgraded Broadband Infrastructure currently being rolled out across the entire county.
On Thursday, January 22, The Right Honourable Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, visited County Hall in Lewes to find out more about the initiative and meet trainers and course participants.
Also joining the meeting was Cllr Rupert Simmons, East Sussex County Council’s lead member for economy, and representatives from Broadband Delivery UK, the delivery arm for Department of Culture, Media and Sport on the Broadband Project.
East Sussex County Council was one of only 16 authorities nationally to secure funding, worth £75,000, from the Government Equalities Office and is working with local charity Sound Architect and network organization MD Hub to deliver the project.
The East Sussex project seeks to address low job density, improve entrepreneurship and self-employment among women, all of which contributes to economic growth and wealth creation.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband is a central part of this government’s long-term economic plan and is transforming the digital landscape of the UK. An additional 28,000 East Sussex homes and businesses can now access superfast speeds as a result of our investment, and we’re reaching more and more people every week.
“The Government’s Women and Broadband programme is designed to help women develop the skills and confidence to use superfast broadband to expand or set-up new businesses, and I’m delighted to see workshops such as this one helping these ventures to prosper in our new Superfast environment.”
The programme includes sessions on creating a business plan, marketing, managing cash flow, time management, presentation skills, IT, social media, web/graphic design, and e-commerce.
Participants attend regular peer-to-peer groups to share knowledge and experience with the support of a business mentor.
Katy Thomas, Broadband Programme Lead at East Sussex County Council, said: “Better digital connectivity is essential to enable the county to be competitive in a 24 hour global economy. “We were delighted to offer this unique opportunity to support entrepreneurial women, who are an under-represented group in East Sussex, to bring their business ideas to fruition.
“Not only will it give them the skills and knowledge they need, but also the confidence to take the plunge by working alongside like-minded women through a sustainable skills development programme, contributing strongly to economic growth in East Sussex.”
Councillor Rupert Simmons added: “This project offers a wonderful opportunity for women across East Sussex to develop their entrepreneurial ideas; it should empower them with access to the business world using flexible work time. This will result in a sustainable and transferrable training package that can be used more widely and with other under-represented groups. It is great to see this project getting the recognition it deserves.
“In East Sussex, we believe that around £295million can be generated over the next 10 years through better access to improved broadband and we are keen to support our communities to successfully start and grow their own businesses.
“With the support of digital skills improvement programmes and projects like Swift, we endeavor to ensure that East Sussex is a thriving county for commerce.”
To find out more about the Swift project visit www.swiftproject.org.uk