A new online learning platform to help boost the nation's digital skills while people are staying at home, has been launched today (28 April) by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.


The free courses are available through a new online platform hosted on the gov.uk website, called The Skills Toolkit. The new platform gives people, including those on furlough, access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.


Individuals will be able to access courses helping them to create effective online content developed by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding, to understand the Fundamentals of Digital Marketing from Google Digital Garage and to learn how to code for data analysis from the Open University. All courses are online and flexible, so people can work through them at their own pace.


Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "The impact of COVID-19 has shown how important digital skills are - both for work and other aspects of our lives. Technology is going to play a hugely important role in our economic recovery and this new platform will help ensure everyone is able to improve their digital skills and take advantage of the opportunities ahead."


Julian David, CEO of techUK said: "techUK is pleased to see Government taking an active role in signposting and motivating the public to take advantage of the digital skills training industry offers, techUK has long advocated for a move in this direction. Digital skills will be crucial to the future of the UK economy and our recovery from the COVID crisis."


Education Secretary Gavin Williamson added: "I know how difficult the recent months have been and the huge changes the coronavirus has brought on the daily lives of us all.


"The high-quality and free to access courses on offer on our new online learning platform, The Skills Toolkit, will help those whose jobs have been affected by the outbreak, and people looking to boost their skills while they are staying at home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.


"I want businesses to encourage their furloughed employees to use The Skills Toolkit to improve their knowledge, build their confidence and support their mental health so they have skills they need to succeed after the coronavirus outbreak.


The Skills Toolkit courses have been selected on the advice of experts and leading employers to make sure they meet the needs of business, not just for today but in the future.


Employers are also encouraged to use The Skills Toolkit to help to support and develop furloughed employees who are interested in learning from home.


British Airways to cut up to 12,000 jobs


British Airways could cut more than a quarter of its workforce as it deals with a collapse in business because of the coronavirus pandemic.


The airline's parent company, IAG, said it needed to bring in a "restructuring and redundancy programme" until air travel demand returns to 2019 levels.


Around 42,000 people are employed by British Airways. The airline's two hubs are London Heathrow and London Gatwick.


In a statement, IAG said: "The proposals remain subject to consultation, but it is likely that they will affect most of British Airways' employees and may result in the redundancy of up to 12,000 of them."


The company said it will take several years for air travel to return to pre-virus levels.


Alongside IAG's statement, BA chief executive Alex Cruz wrote in a letter to staff: "In the last few weeks, the outlook for the aviation industry has worsened further and we must take action now. We are a strong, well-managed business that has faced into, and overcome, many crises in our hundred-year history.


"We must overcome this crisis ourselves, too. There is no government bailout standing by for BA and we cannot expect the taxpayer to offset salaries indefinitely... We will see some airlines go out of business."




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Register to join a free webinar hosted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) at 11am on Monday May 4 to find out how small business can access the coronavirus business support measures that have been made available to UK businesses.

The webinar will cover:

  • Eligibility for small business grants
  • Applying for a loan
  • Tax
  • Claiming for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme


You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar.


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