Tech Firms Call For Broad Government Reforms

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The IT industry’s trade body is urging the government to bring in sweeping measures to safeguard the country’s digital economy

The trade association for the UK’s technology industry has called upon the government to introduce immigration reforms, appoint dedicated digital ministers, double IT exports and take measures to foster domestic technology skills in order to safeguard the country’s digital economy.

The measures are to help secure one million IT jobs over the next five years, according to techUK, whose 850 members account for one-half of the UK’s technology sector jobs.

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Manifesto

In its wide-ranging manifesto for growth and jobs 2015-2020, introduced on Tuesday, techUK said 95 percent of interactions with government should be carried out online by 2020, with digital ministers appointed in every department, and the appointment of a new chief privacy officer and a digital trade tsar at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“Tech and digital have a fundamental role to play in almost everything the next government will need to do, as we continue to rebuild our economy for the 21st century,” said techUK chief executive Julian David, in a statement. “The key message for politicians is that voters and industry alike want the government to secure our digital future.”

He singled out healthcare and financial services as two areas the government can help to gain an edge over competition from abroad.

The trade body called upon the government to set a target of doubling tech exports by 2020, and to reform immigration policies in order to allow companies to tap into talent from abroad, while bringing in measures to foster skills domestically, including supporting regional clusters outside of London and helping the 9.5 million British citizens who lack basic online skills.

Surveillance

TechUK also called for a commitment to free speech online and a transparent legal framework for government surveillance in order to boost confidence in online data storage, and ten-year budgets that would be independent of parliamentary cycles.

The organisation is to formally launch the manifesto at a London event on Tuesday evening, where digital minister Ed Vaizey MP, Shadow BIS Minister Iain Wright MP, and Lord Clement-Jones are to issue a response to the recommendations and outline their parties’ vision for digital policy.

In a statement, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said the government has already dedicated £18.4m of public funding for an employer-led Industrial Partnership to improve digital skills, and is investing more than £1bn in the extension of superfast broadband across the UK.

The government pointed out it has also launched a new computing curriculum this month, and is investing to raise awareness in technology and science careers.

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