Digital skills boost for all women in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire County Council and BT’s ‘Better Broadband for Oxfordshire project has been awarded Government money to fund workshops in market towns throughout the county.

Women will be targeted across four categories:

  1. women who currently run successful businesses (small business women)
  2. budding female entrepreneurs who wish to start-up a business
  3. women keen on returning to the workplace (mothers / carers)
  4. women who are looking to improve their digital skills for personal development.

Aim of the Women and Broadband Challenge Fund

The Women and Broadband Challenge Fund run by the Government Equalities Office, aims to promote digital skills and build confidence among women wishing to start-up and grow their own business, including those based at home.

The £72,250 will fund a series of tailor-made workshops over a six-month period for women-led businesses and potential female entrepreneurs. These will offer practical support to women wishing to develop or improve their digital skills or even help set up a business whilst gaining support from existing women’s business networks.

As part of the Women and Broadband project being delivered over the next six months, Oxfordshire County Council will also launch the training programme, ‘Digital Mums’ for women keen on returning to work, but who also have caring responsibilities.  Digital Mums is a regional adaptation of the successful London-based programme and will be targeted at women who have previous marketing experience and aspire to be a Social Media Marketing Manager. Initially ten mothers will benefit from the programme and will receive training at home to support their return to the workplace. All ten women will be given a mentor, work experience and support in finding employment that they can do from home.

Oxfordshire County Council successfully bid for this additional funding in competition with other Local Authorities across the country. It was only one out of a few applicants to receive the Women and Broadband Challenge Fund from the Government Equalities Office.

Who will benefit?

The aim is that around 400 women across Oxfordshire will benefit throughout the six-month programme. Workshops will begin at the end of September 2015 and will be held in eight market towns where superfast broadband has already been delivered through the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme. Towns being considered include: Ardington, Banbury, Bicester, Burford, Carterton, Chipping Norton, Henley-on-Thames, Thame, Wantage, Watlington and Witney.

Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Business and Customer Services Councillor Nick Carter said: “This initiative will help to empower women entrepreneurs across the county to use digital technology to either start up a business or help grow their existing business online. Our workshops and ‘Digital Mums’ initiative will provide vital support to women wishing to harness the benefits of the next generation broadband which is being rolled out via the Oxfordshire Better Broadband Programme. We see new infrastructure as a key driver of economic growth, so we’re delighted to have won this funding to develop digital skills among Oxfordshire’s businesswomen.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme, in partnership with BT, has so far given more than 55,000 Oxfordshire homes and businesses access to superfast broadband.

The council will be working closely with women's enterprise groups in Oxfordshire including: WIRE, South Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire Women’s Forum and the Athena Network to ensure that female entrepreneurs are aware and encouraged to express their interest.

Women interested in attending a workshop are asked to express their interest by sending an email to: broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk , ensuring they add ‘Women & Broadband (WAB) - Interest to Register’ in the subject header of their email.

Women interested in the Digital Mums training programme are asked to send an email to: broadband@oxfordshire.gov.uk , ensuring they add ‘Women & Broadband (WAB) - Digital Mums, Interest to Register’ in the subject header of their email.

For residents and businesses interested in receiving updates from the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme, please register via this website: www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk

Press contact:

For more information or to set up an interview with Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Business and Customer Services Councillor Nick Carter, please contact: Emily Reed at the Oxfordshire County Council press office on 01865 815 742 or email:  Emily.Reed@Oxfordshire.gov.uk

About Better Broadband for Oxfordshire

Better Broadband for Oxfordshire is a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council, BT and BDUK. The £30.1 million programme is made up of  £10.2 million from Oxfordshire County Council,  £5,95 million from the Government (Broadband Delivery UK) and  £12.2 million from BT.

The District Councils have invested amounts through Oxfordshire County Council of £500,000 from Cherwell, £250,000 from the Vale of White Horse and £1 million from South Oxfordshire, It builds on the existing commercial footprint in the county with the aim that at least 95 per cent of all premises will have access to superfast broadband speeds of 24 Mbps and above by the end of 2017.

The Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme will make superfast broadband available to 71,000 homes and businesses across the county by the end of 2017.  For further details go to www.betterbroadbandoxfordshire.org.uk

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race.  The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  1. £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
  2. £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
  3. £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.

Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. For further information: www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk