The announcement made this week by the Government that it plans to offer more than four million free digital skills training opportunities to millions of people, charities and businesses by 2020 to build a “modern, dynamic and global” trading nation for after the UK leaves the EU, has been warmly welcomed by the Cloud Industry Forum.
Alex Hilton, CEO, CIF, stated: “A recent report from the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons brought attention to the digital skills gap that the UK is currently facing. According to the report the lack of digital skills is estimated to cost UK plc an estimated £83bn each year. So the launch of the UK Digital Strategy, which has recognised this skills gap, is a welcome development.
“The Minister for the Digital Economy, Matt Hancock has stated himself that ‘I can group the facts and figures; 23% of people currently lack basic digital skills, and about 90% of new jobs now need some form of them.’ I think that what we’ve learnt following the Brexit vote is that the need to engage everybody is more demonstrable than ever before. This is a very important part of the Prime Minister’s agenda, and wider digital engagement is a key part of the broader issue to make an economy that works for everyone.”
The UK Digital Strategy also includes plans to create five international technology hubs in emerging markets to provide British business with a “global competitive edge”.
UK Culture Secretary 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.
“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.”
The plans also include the creation of two forums, one to allow the UK Government to collaborate with the tech community, and the other, to be chaired by Bradley, to help businesses get better access to fast broadband.
Hilton continued: “There is clearly a need for the industry itself to step up to the plate and for individuals to self-learn, which is why we recently launched our Professional Membership, online training courses and cloud certification programme.
“Tech City UK calculate that the average advertised salary in digital roles is just under £50,000 – 36% higher than the national average. But there is a pressing need for high level specialist skills in cloud computing, data science, cyber-security and data security as a result of high growth rates associated with key emerging technologies in which the UK has particular strengths such as the Internet of Things, Wearable Technology, Cloud and mobile computing, 5G and Big Data,” he added.