Digital Nation

Scotland’s Rural College – A Five Point Action Plan for Boosting Rural Economies

Our Digital Village initiative is designed around analyzing key policy recommendations for growing Scotland’s rural communities, and providing the technology platform to implement those recommendations.

At a headline level this includes this report from the Scottish Rural College, who describe that rural communities adopting more digital technologies would add between £1.2bn and £2.5bn annually in Gross Value Added (GVA) to Scotland’s rural economy and at least £1.44bn to rural business turnover.

The report says four-in-five rural business owners believing digital tools and services are important to their future growth potential.

However 52% of rural business owners say they face some form of skills-related obstacle to adopting digital to unlock more growth, such as recruiting people with appropriate skills to finding training for their existing workforce.

Almost a third (30 per cent) have difficulty finding external or outsourced digital connectivity support, 14 per cent have difficulty accessing appropriate external digital training for the existing workforce and one-in-five (20 per cent) say their existing workforce lacks sufficient skills or they struggle to recruit people with appropriate digital skills.

Digital Village Enablement

Our program offers a complete digital enablement program for Scotland’s rural communities, developed around the best practices recommended by the Rural College, that would unlock £2.5 BILLION in new economic growth as a consequence of adopting rural digital innovations.

“To unlock the billions of pounds additional GVA from greater digital adoption in rural areas, Rural England and SRUC outline a number of recommendations for the public and private sectors, including:

    1. Streamlining digital support services – Setting up a single portal for information and local directories giving guidance and support that fulfils the digital needs of rural businesses
    2. Digital Enterprise Hubs – Establishing hubs in rural towns which businesses can use or visit for better connectivity, start-up workspace, hot-desk space and training
    3. Training and skills development – Local collaboration between employers and education providers, improving retraining opportunities and ensuring short training courses and online tools are more readily available to small business owners for life-long learning
    4. Accelerated business adoption of digital connectivity – Encourage businesses using superfast broadband to champion its benefits to their peers locally, offering practical real-life examples of success, and prioritise investment in connectivity and digital tools.
    5. Stronger rural targeting by existing policies and strategies – Making support for digital growth a key objective in future rural business support programmes and encourage larger technology-driven firms to implement policies focused on greater digital adoption in rural areas that shares best practice and provides practical hands-on support for smaller companies.”

Digital portal

Specifically the Digital Village community portal aligns to their first recommendation:

“1. Set up a single portal for information and local directories giving guidance and support that fulfills the digital needs of rural businesses.”

Digital Scotland has developed a sophisticated Cloud platform for providing each and every town with their own digital portal, providing all the features and more that the SRC recommend, including:

  • Local business directory, offering a browsable index of local businesses.
  • Tourism guide, showcasing the region’s visitor attractions.
  • Events calendar, listing the local fairs and shows.

Check out our first Digital Village site: Biggar.online

Our enablement service goes far beyond just the web site – We’ll help local communities formulate and execute an online marketing plan to boost their tourism numbers and provide the training required to build their own capacity for sustaining these campaigns, and for utilizing digital in a variety of other ways to enhance their local community.

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