The Mayor of the West Midlands has urged the region’s businesses to increase their digital skills to be able to compete in the post-pandemic economy.
Speaking at the Amazon Bootcamp West Midlands this week, Andy Street said the pandemic had ushered in lasting changes to the economy and that grasping technology and learning new skills was now essential for all businesses.
“I do know and appreciate that the pandemic has made life for many businesses incredibly difficult. If you’re in retail, hospitality, travel and leisure it would have been particularly difficult. For some sectors, it’s been easier. But of course, the critical thing to draw out is that those that have digitised have in the main done far better than those that are analogue or still conventional businesses.
“So, the lesson of the pandemic is that you have to become a digital business no matter what sector you are in.
“I do understand that one of the hardest things you can do when you’re running a small business is to put time aside for training and development. It’s very easy to get caught up in the hurly burly of trade and it’s tough at the current time.
“But building digital capability gives them the potential to increase sales, safeguard jobs, and make their business more resilient. The Amazon Small Business Accelerator is helping local firms to do exactly that.”
The free two-day bootcamp, which finishes today, offered businesses access to practical sessions on how to get online, master social media, sell products on Amazon and achieve scale.
More than 2,000 small firms from the West Midlands now sell on Amazon, a 20 per cent increase on last year. Of those, more than 1,500 export to global customers.
The bootcamp was run by small business support network Enterprise Nation in partnership with Amazon, as part of the Amazon Small Business Accelerator, a programme of support to help startups and small businesses grow through free training, support and services.
Earlier this year Amazon pledged its remaining apprenticeship levy to the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Apprenticeship Levy Fund to cover the costs of training apprentices at small businesses in the West Midlands.
Tens of thousands of UK-based small and medium-sized businesses sell their products in Amazon’s stores across the world and Amazon provides practical support and services to help them grow.
More than 60% of UK businesses selling on Amazon export to customers all over the world. In 2019 they achieved total export sales of more than £2.75bn and supported more than 85,000 job opportunities in the UK.