Prime Minister Theresa May has laid out the UK government’s new industrial strategy, which includes plans to boost science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills and a £4.7 billion fund into smart energy, robotics, IoT, 5G and biotech research.
Speaking to Silicon, several tech industry professionals have offered their reactions to the news, providing an insight into what the industry is thinking.
Dr Bernard Parsons, CEO and Co-founder of Becrypt
“I applaud the government’s new strategies to help boost British industry. The UK has a proud track record for delivering on quality and innovation, but we need to do more to survive on an increasingly fast-paced and competitive global scale.
“Smart energy, robotics, artificial intelligence and 5G mobile network technology are all fields that reflect the future of both industry and our daily lives. These technologies will continue to develop and change our lives at a rapid pace, with or without our involvement, and it will be the current generation of students and young people that enable the UK to establish itself as a leading innovator.
“With this in mind, the government’s decision to focus on STEM skills is absolutely correct. Technology is one of the most important sectors for the future of this country, and we need to prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators. This means not only more incentive to enter STEM subjects, but greater support to help turn this education into real opportunities in the business world.”
Laurie Miles, Director of Analytics at SAS UK & Ireland
“Against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, the survival factor for organisations lies in embracing innovation to make optimum decisions and iron out inefficiencies. The emergence of artificial intelligence, robotics and smart technologies means more data is being created than ever before. Yet there is a dearth of talent with the skills to extract insights from data and find the all-important needles within ever-growing data haystacks.
“To remain globally competitive and thrive in a modern and tech-centric economy, we need greater investment in skills. Science and mathematic skills form the basis of data science. It’s important to make the next generation aware of the real-world opportunities available to them and how critical these skills are to businesses nationwide.
“This commitment to closing the skills gap creates an opportunity to propel the economy forward using insights from big data. The next generation requires a solid foundation in STEM skills that are crucial to developing a pool of analytically-minded talent. While we’re moving in the right direction, we still need to do a better job of encouraging students to take up – and then develop – these skills.
“The value of each person’s competitiveness no longer lies in simply gaining necessary knowledge. It also requires them to develop a dexterity for learning.”
Alison Vincent, CTO, Cisco UK & Ireland
“The Prime Minister’s speech today highlights that the UK is a nation that is not afraid to evolve, is focused on the digitisation of infrastructure and committed to investing in the technology and people that will drive innovation now, and into the future.
“With a particular focus on the development of STEM skills and the announcement of £170 million fund to create new institutes of technology, it is a huge step forward in establishing the UK as a digital powerhouse.
“Going forward, we believe that today’s investment will help to shift perceptions and inspire the younger generation to take part in STEM subjects from an early age. Furthermore, by encouraging business and educators to work collaboratively with the government, we can clearly communicate the amazing opportunities these skills can present to young people and embrace digitisation in every region of the UK.”
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