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01.03.17

Government launches strategy to keep UK at cutting edge of digital skills

The government has announced its long-awaited post-Brexit digital strategy designed to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of technology and innovation by supporting schemes to improve the digital skills of the workforce.

As part of the strategy, four million digital training opportunities are going to be introduced in an effort to make Britain “the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business” and ensure the country’s digital economy works for everyone.

The government will work with Lloyds Banking Group to provide face-to-face digital skills to 2.5 million people and collaborate with Barclays to teach coding to 45,000 more children, as well as help up to one million people develop general digital skills and cyber awareness.

Google is also going to launch a Summer of Skills programme to educate coastal towns in digital skills to boost tourism and economic growth in these regions.

The plan is central to the government’s long-term objective of ensuring that everyone in the country has the skills to prepare them to contribute to the digital economy.

There are also plans to form five international technology hubs in a range of markets to keep UK companies up-to-date and on the cutting edge of technology in their respective markets.

Speaking of 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.”

Bradley added that the government will continue to work closely with businesses to make sure the benefits and opportunities of the digital strategy is spread across the country so nobody is left behind.

“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,” she argued.

This latest announcement builds on the government’s full transformation strategy published in in February which aims to outline how the relationship between citizen and state can be changed to improve public services.

Nick Williams, managing director, consumer and commercial digital at Lloyds Banking Group said that the bank was excited to be involved in increasing prosperity in the UK.

“By working with the Digital Skills Partnership, and our key partners such as Google and The Good Things Foundation, we can help to tackle some of the issues raised by the government’s digital strategy,” he added. “Our commitment to provide face-to-face support will make a huge difference to millions of individuals, small businesses and charities across the UK.”

Google’s managing director for UK & Ireland, Ronan Harris, also said his company believes “digital can have a transformative impact, no matter where you live and what your job is”.

“Everyone deserves access to the tools and opportunities the web has to offer and that is why we welcome the government’s timely digital strategy which ensures the benefits of the digital economy are spread across the country,” added Harris.

Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City UK, argued that the UK’s tech sector is “rapidly becoming a global force to reckon with”, but that it should ensure it stays ahead by continuing to provide a “supportive environment” for start-ups and digital companies – “especially since other countries are trying to take advantage of our departure from the European Union”.

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