Across Scotland we are helping transform lives, connecting homes, businesses, families, individuals and ideas. We’re using our products and services to help even more people take advantage of an increasingly digital world. Access to the internet opens opportunities for better education, healthcare, jobs, economic growth and new ways of working. We’re helping to build an inclusive digital society to make sure no one is left behind. We have a big part to play in helping to build the infrastructure and skills needed to develop a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone.
BT supporting Scottish communities through our digital impact and sustainability approach
So what does this mean for communities, charities, families and individuals in Scotland?
We invest in initiatives designed to accelerate progress towards our digital impact and sustainability ambitions. In 2019/20, our investments through cash, time volunteered and other in-kind contributions totalled £28.7 million, equivalent to 0.90% of the previous year’s adjusted profit before tax. Over the last five years, we have invested £164 million at an average of 0.98% of adjusted profit before tax.
Skills for Tomorrow
BT is committed to helping tackle the digital skills challenge facing the UK. Through our Skills for Tomorrow programme we provide support for everyone - those who wish to get online for the first time as well as courses for people who are honing their skills. Whether you are a parent helping a child to navigate the internet, or a small business looking to grow, we offer a range of free online, or face to face courses, designed to help people feel more confident online and to make the most of life in a digital world.
The BT supported Barefoot initiative is designed to help teach computational thinking and digital skills to primary school pupils and provides free, simple accessible resources for teachers that match the Scottish Curriculum For Excellence. Volunteers introduce these resources and concepts at workshops designed to build teachers’ confidence in delivering the primary computing curriculum. During COVID we’ve also added fun, interactive resources to the Skills for Tomorrow portal to help parents help their children with digital learning at home. In Scotland, at the end of March 2020 we had delivered 629 workshops, reaching 1,632 schools (79% of schools) and reached 8,916 teachers.
In addition, BT has been a long standing partner of The Young Engineers and Science Clubs Network in Scotland – promoting STEM and digital skills and careers to young pupils across Scotland. Our support of the Digital Xtra Fund also means that these skills are also supported outside of the mainstream school environment through community, youth and out of school clubs and groups.
Our Work Ready programme prepares 18-24 year olds for the world of work and teaches them practical skills to improve employability. Work Ready supports young people not currently in education, employment or training gain hands-on tech skills and work experience with us. We support young people facing multiple barriers to work, be it a lack of academic qualifications or work experience, physical and/or learning difficulties, or other personal issues affecting them or their families. A BT work placement is delivered over 2 weeks and includes coaching and on-the-job experience, helping young people get the skills they need to kick-start a career in the digital work force, either in BT or the industry of their choosing. We continue to support young people for 6 months post programme. In 2019/20 across Scotland 126 young people went through the programme. In response to the COVID lockdown Work Ready has been offering a series of interactive webinars to boost peoples’ skills and confidence so when the right job comes along they are ready - these are open to people of all ages.
Working in partnership with the Good Things Foundation, a network of online centres are providing vital face to face support to enable 60,000 socially excluded people to gain essential digital skills and live more fulfilling lives. During 2019/20 an initial 20 locations were launched across the UK including Greenock and Inverness in Scotland. We are planning to support further online centres during 2020/21. Those who attend the training can also access additional free resources through our Skills for Tomorrow portal, to help further develop their basic digital skills and realise the many benefits of being online, whether that be in searching for employment, accessing information and services, staying connected to family and friends or enjoying hobbies and entertainment.
BT is also a founding signatory of the Scottish Digital Participation Charter Fund and supports around 6-8 local community projects each year across Scotland , helping people get online and develop the essential digital skills they need to thrive in a digital world.
A major part of our Skill for Tomorrow strategy aims to empower businesses and their employees with the best digital skills to help grow their business. Our ambition is to boost the digital skills of 1 million small business owners and their employees by 2025. We are proud to work with partners like Google, LinkedIn, Small Business Britain, Fresh Business Thinking, to connect and inspire small businesses.
In 2019/20 we have helped thousands of business across the UK, by running events designed to help SME businesses on a wide range of topics such as digital marketing, using collaboration tools and getting your business online. Events have been delivered in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
In response to the COVID crisis we’ve supported thousands of businesses from all parts of the UK via our website and our series of webinars. Most popular courses include Developing a Social Media Strategy, Digital Marketing, Moving Your Business Online which were key topics businesses told us they needed to adapt and keep their SME business running during Covid-19, with over 87% of people joining our webinars and events reporting that they would be implementing some changes on the way they run their business.
A full list of webinars are available to view here
Charity support and volunteering
We are working with charity partners to use the power of technology to improve lives in the UK and beyond - supported by volunteers from across the business. We’ve used our technology and expertise to help generate over £700m for good causes since 2012/13, and £55m in 2019/20. BT employees are leading the charge, donating over £13.5m through payroll giving in the last 5 years, topped up by BT to over £17.5m. In 2019/20 over 1,400 individual charities were supported and BT was recognised with a National Payroll Giving Excellence Award for Most Sustained Scheme in 2019.
The Supporters Club has funded 61 projects across the UK, to the value of £7,476,791. The estimated number of beneficiaries in the UK is 130,162, with a further 93,131 additional direct beneficiaries including front line workers. Active projects in year six of the programme, include violence prevention, education, mental health/homelessness, disability inclusion, gender justice and LGBTQ+. Projects supported last year totalled £1,960,390.
Additionally, some 1,170 websites have been set up for Scottish charities and community groups using our free community web kit, at a value in kind of £58,500.
Everyone at BT can take up to three days a year for volunteering. Last year 15% of all employees volunteered their time and expertise – an enriching experience both for the beneficiaries and for the volunteers. Volunteers supported a wide range of charity and community projects such as fundraising for good causes, regular food bank collections at BT buildings for The Trussell Trust, running workshops to introduce teachers to our Barefoot resources and supporting other digital skills initiatives such as TeenTech. Employees also contributed additional volunteering in their own time. In the year ending 31 March 2020, across Scotland some 852 volunteers gave 1,467 days volunteering, at a value in kind of £267,774
BT is taking a sector leading approach to climate change with a target to make our business become net zero for carbon emissions by 2045.
As part of that pledge we are working to:
- Purchase 100% renewable electricity worldwide by 2020, where markets allow
- Convert our fleet to ultra- low emission vehicles
- Decarbonise our buildings
We buy 100% of the energy required for our UK operation from renewable sources. This includes contracts with the Fallago Rig windfarm in the Scottish Borders and Stroupster windfarm in Caithness. A Power Purchase Agreement (PPA ) worth £485m over the next 15-20 years makes us one of the largest PPA buyers in the UK.
We are also helping our customers reduce their carbon too, using the potential of our products and services to help save energy, fuel, material and emissions. We’ve now helped our customers save three times as much carbon as our own end-to-end carbon emissions and have achieved our 3:1 carbon abasement target one year early. This year our carbon-saving products and services helped customers save c13M tonnes of CO2. That means for every tonne of CO2 emitted in our operations, supply chain and from product use we’ve helped customers save over three tonnes of greenhouse gases.
BT has installed electric charging points across the UK, including in Edinburgh (6), Glasgow (2) and Greenock (2).
Find out more details on any of our Digital Impact and Sustainability activities.