Tuesday 15 November 2016 9:41 am

Google just promised everyone in the UK free digital skills training

The boss of Google has promised every single person in the UK free digital skills training.

In a speech in London today, Sundar Pichai will say: “No matter where you live, no matter where you’re from, no matter what your job is – you deserve access to all the information, education, and opportunity the web has to offer."

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Our aim is to make sure that every individual and business in the UK has the support they need to make the most of online tools to innovate, compete and have fruitful careers in the digital age.

The scheme will offer Britons access to five hours of free training. It will launch next year, and will take place in 100 locations across the country or online.

Read more: How business can get around the digital skills crisis

"Today's pledge from Google is very welcome in supporting that national goal. It will help more people to get the tools they need to contribute to society and enjoy the benefits of the internet," said digital minister Matt Hancock.

It's an extension of Google's Digital Garage, which first launched last year and has already reached a quarter of a million people in the UK. 

A lack of digital skills is thought to cost the UK economy billions of pounds each year, while MPs and businesses have warned that the country risks falling behind the rest of the world if it fails to tackle the skills gap.

In July Barclays's top boss in Britain warned the country's digital deficit puts economic growth and productivity at risk

On his first visit to the UK since being named chief executive of the company last year, Pichai will also commit to bring a virtual reality programme to 1m school children across the country.

Schools and teachers are being encouraged to apply for the Google Expeditions programme which brings virtual reality trips to the classroom.

The tech company has also promised to make further investment in the UK and intends to unveil more plans this week.