Google has launched a new digital skills programme in a bid to boost Britain’s high streets.

The online giant has teamed up with the Federation of Small Businesses and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to provide smaller high street businesses with free face-to-face training, designed to help them “operate and grow in the digital economy”.

The programme, called the Google Digital Garage High Street Tour, is being launched in Rochester today, but will swing into action in May.

Google said it will tour at least 15 high street destinations across the UK to offer the training as part of its work with the Government’s National Skills Partnership.

The Federation of Small Businesses and BEIS have worked with Google to “inform the curriculum”.

Google said: “The challenges faced by bricks-and-mortar retailers are well documented. They are faced with competition from large shopping centres and supermarkets, as well as changes in consumer behaviour driven by digital technologies which have transformed how people live, work and shop.”

Google managing director of UK and Ireland Ronan Harris said: “Having the right digital skills can have a transformative impact on business growth and job creation. Our hope is that by providing dedicated, tailored training through the Digital Garage we can help bring new growth to high streets.

“Despite the ongoing uncertainty posed by Brexit, we want to show businesses on high streets how digital skills can help them to thrive, not just as a place for commerce, but also as a cultural centrepiece of the communities that they serve.”