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UK Government Outlines Strategy To Combat Digital Skills Gap Fears

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

UK government will work with businesses and charities in new Digital Skills Partnership

More than four million free digital skills training opportunities will be created as part of the UK government’s digital strategy to make Britain a leading creator and grower of digital businesses.

Following on from the launch of a modern Industrial Strategy, a Digital Skills Partnership will see government join forces with businesses, charities and voluntary organisations to make sure UK workers have the skills they need to flourish in today’s digital economy.

The strategy includes training commitments from the likes of Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays and Google to help Britain lead the way as a technology-driven nation.

Digital strategy

Lloyds has promised to provide face-to-face digital skills training for 2.5 million individuals, charities and small and medium businesses by 2020, while Barclays will teach basic coding to 45,000 children and develop the general digital skills and cyber awareness of up to one million citizens.

In addition, Google has pledged to help boost the level of digital skills in seaside towns through its Summer of Skills programme, as part of its commitment to give everyone five free hours of digital skills training.

Digital Analog Umstieg © N-Media-Images - Fotolia

“The UK’s world-leading digital sectors are a major driver of growth and productivity, and we are determined to protect and strengthen them,” said Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley.

“This Digital Strategy sets a path to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research as part of the Government’s plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation.

“There should be no digital divide – every individual and every business should have the skills and confidence to make the most of digital technology and have easy access to high-quality internet wherever they live, work, travel or learn.”

Empowering businesses

The strategy, which the private sector has played an important role in developing, also includes plans to empower innovative businesses and deliver world-class connectivity.

For example, five international tech hubs will be established in emerging markets to create and develop partnerships between local tech firms and UK companies, all aiming to drive collaboration on skills, innovation, technology and research.

A new FinTech competition will also be launched to aid the development of new products and software for those with limited access to financial services, building on the UK’s existing expertise in the FinTech sector.

But that’s not all, as a Business Connectivity Forum will be launched to help with the provision of fast, affordable and reliable broadband.

Finally, the strategy includes a commitment to create a Secretary of State-led forum for government and the tech community to work together to spark growth and innovation in the digital economy.

Digital government, GDS

Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City UK, said: “The UK’s tech sector is rapidly becoming a global force to reckon with, but we must ensure that we stay ahead by continuing to provide a supportive environment for British startups and digital companies to grow in, especially since other countries are trying to take advantage of our departure from the European Union.

“In the UK tech sector, jobs are being created at twice the rate of the wider economy, and today’s Digital Strategy provides an ambitious road map for the industry to continue growing at this rate and building a new economy fit for the future.”

Government support

The UK government has been working hard to ensure that Britain’s impending detachment from the European Union doesn’t affect its future digital prospects.

The Industrial Strategy, announced in January, includes a £1 billion investment into digital infrastructure, as well as £4.7 billion in funding for the research and development of future technologies such as smart energy, robotics and 5G.

Whitehall has also pledged its support for the country’s education technology (edtech) sector and earlier this week announced a £17.3 million funding boost to support the development of new robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies in universities across the UK.

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