Efforts to tackle the digital skills gap have moved quickly up the national agenda in recent years. As part of London Tech Week this week, Google has opened its hotly anticipated digital skills academy, making its ambition to offer free support to every UK citizen one step closer to reality. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also announced plans to turn the capital into the world’s leading smart city, and also to appoint a chief digital officer to work with local authorities and technology businesses on policy for the industry.

When it comes to empowering people with digital and technology skill-sets, there’s no doubt that exciting progress is being made. Yet recent studies have shown that the effective use and understanding of technology continues to impact productivity at work. Another crucial focus must be ensuring sustained and equal investment for UK regions as a whole, and especially for smaller businesses, who are often left struggling to keep up with the relentless pace of technological change.

Again, companies like Apple are leading the way in tackling this issue, with the brilliant Today at Apple courses and events, where, alongside other categories, they host events specifically for businesses to up-skill in several areas from increasing productivity by helping to use software to create a business presentation to running a connected business. Google have Digital Garage, an important innovation that is working specifically with small businesses to boost digital knowledge.

Despite the fact that more of us have access to digital devices like laptops, phones and tablets than ever before, we strongly believe that making the latest technology affordable for all remains an important first step to giving people of all ages the means to build their confidence with the latest devices, which will have added benefits for the workplace too. We also know that programmes like Techscheme, which give employees this chance, are hugely valued by employees, helping them to feel more loyal towards employers in the long-run.