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Microsoft Promises Cloud & Digital Training For 30,000 UK Public Sector Workers

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Microsoft promises more apprenticeships, digital skills for all and public sector cloud training in bid to improve UK government services

Microsoft’s increasingly cosy relationship with the UK government will see the company train 30,000 public servants with cloud technology skills that will allow them to deliver better digital services. 

A new national skills programme will also see half a million people trained to be ‘cloud experts’, free digital literacy training offered to the entire of the UK population and the creation of 30,000 digital apprenticeships through Microsoft’s network of UK partners by 2020.

The US tech giant claims to have helped 700,000 people gain technical skills over the past 15 years and to have created 11,000 digital apprenticeships since 2012. 

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Microsoft education 

“We believe a fourth industrial revolution is underway – one driven by the transformative power of cloud technologies,” said Cindy Rose, Microsoft UK CEO. “In the wake of the EU referendum vote, the UK is looking at charting a new and different path to its future and Microsoft is committed, as it has been for more than thirty years, to helping the UK realise its full potential.  

“We believe maintaining the UK’s global competitiveness relies on a successful transition to a cloud-enabled economy.” 

Of course, better trained public servants means more opportunity for Microsoft which opened its UK data centres in September and has invested in government-specific cloud services. However Brexit has thrown a few spanners in the works.  

Microsoft has raised UK prices by 22 percent due to currency fluctuations and was forced to deny claims from a member of staff that any cloud tariffs imposed after Brexit could cause it to reconsider its data centre expansion plans. 

Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously stated the importance of the technology industry to the country’s post-Brexit economy and Microsoft offered him the platform to speak about these ambitions at its Future Decoded event in November. 

Government ambitions 

Hammond will use a visit to Microsoft’s UK headquarters in Reading to speak about GDP figures. 

“This is further evidence that Britain is one of the best places in the world to do digital business,” he said. “Microsoft’s commitment to training, technology and apprenticeships will ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of innovation.  

“Our technology industry is fundamental to securing future economic growth and this government is committed to ensuring it continues to thrive. It’s a key part of our Industrial Strategy to back Britain for the long term, creating the conditions where business can flourish, driving growth for the whole nation.” 

However many of the conditions that have allowed the UK tech sector to enjoy success could be challenged by Brexit and the possible departure from the European single market but more apprenticeships and training citizens could help offset any talent drain or immigration restrictions after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. 

The government has also been accused of offering “embarrassing” support for British tech firms, especially startups. However Prime Minister has allocated nearly £5 billion in funding for research and development projects in future technologies as part of her industrial vision. 

But amid the ongoing Brexit speculation, it is a fact that the process is delaying the publication of the government’s digital strategy. 

“Following the decision of the British people to leave the European Union, we have been engaging closely with the digital industries to understand their priorities, and will continue to do so,” the government stated earlier this month. 

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