Governments post-Brexit digital strategy aims to ensure nobody is left behind
The UK’s long-awaited digital strategy has finally been revealed.
The strategy, expected in 2016 but delayed owing to the UK’s referendum on EU membership, was announced on 1 March by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and outlines its plans to keep the UK at the forefront of all things digital, post-Brexit.
After revealing the strategy, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, said:
"The UK's world-leading digital sectors are a major driver of growth and productivity, and we are determined to protect and strengthen them. 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."
The plan itself includes a commitment to create five international tech hubs in emerging markets to allow UK companies to maintain their global edge.
Additionally, the government also aims to offer digital skills to millions of individuals, charities and businesses by 2020.
For the tech sector, it’s the promise of addressing the skills gap that should offer the most encouragement.
"We will equip the next generation so we have a strong pipeline of specialist skills – from coding to cyber – to support the tech industry and drive productivity across the economy".
Further to this promise, the new Digital Skills Partnership made up of government, industry and other partners will work to improve digital skills at all levels. The Government has already secured pledges from companies including Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays and Google to create more than four million free new digital training places.
Early critics of the strategy, however, have already taken aim claiming the plan is light on detail and does not go far enough to address the need for investment in education, start-ups and skills.
As a commentator on the sector, I have repeatedly said the UK government needs to do more to address this discrepancy of demand and supply when it comes to skills, starting with education.
When it comes to engaging young minds, we are behind the likes of Eastern Europe and India and desperately need to address this issue. The technology sector is driven by people with ideas, and if these ideas dry up owing to a lack of people pursuing a career in tech, or if there’s not enough people with the right skills to help drive these tech companies forward, the growth in this sector will stall.
Let’s hope that the Digital Economy Council, which was announced as part of the digital strategy, goes a step further in addressing this issue as we leave the EU.
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