There are a variety of issues, from social care to policing, that have been thrown up in the build up to the upcoming general election. Discussions surrounding the digital economy, however, have not been given the attention it requires.
Issues of social care, and given the recent terrorist incidents, security, will always dominate political discourse, but the importance of growing the digital economy should not be underestimated. The topic should be engaged more often. In light of this, CompTIA have outlined recommendations to all political parties on what can be done to secure the UK’s digital future.
>See also: What does 2017 hold for the digital economy?
The ‘manifesto’ has suggested five key proposals for the next UK government, which it hopes will guarantee the nation’s digital economy continued acceleration.
Cross party endorsement
Cross party endorsement for key parts of the UK Digital Strategy to give certainty to the UK’s digital futureThe next government needs to endorse key parts of the UK’s Digital Strategy, including digital skills, investment, infrastructure and regional hubs. This will give certainty to UK businesses and citizens to take the actions needed to make the UK a global leader in digital.
Digital skills must be a core component of all apprenticeships
All political parties must make digital skills a core component of apprenticeships alongside Maths and English in their manifestos. This follows the recommendation made by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee in the last Parliament. The government must also continue engagement with private sector training providers to ensure high quality standards in apprenticeships now and into the future.
Avoid one size fits all
For a world-class technical education system, the UK must avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to digital skill qualificationsAll political parties must seek a more flexible approach to T-levels. In A-Levels, there are seven national exam board awarding bodies (across England, Wales and Northern Ireland) from which colleges and schools can choose qualifications.
A similar broader qualification approval system for T-Levels would allow existing digital skill training qualifications, which are internationally recognised and endorsed by business to be incorporated.
The UK needs collaborative local careers advice that promotes digital careers and local digital job opportunities. Cross party scrutiny on how local SMEs can be involved productively in this careers advice process, as well as measures to tackle outdated stereotypes will be important if such a forum is to be successful.
SMEs must be at the heart of the UK Digital Strategy to lead to success in areas such as tech ecosystems and skill pipelines. The next government should put SMEs at the heart of the digital agenda. Two areas in particular need this SME centric focus; regional tech ecosystems and specialist skill pipelines.
Graham Hunter, vice president, EMEA at CompTIA, said “The digital market has become of vital importance to the UK’s economy, highlighted in a recent report from Tech Nation, which revealed that there are 1.64 million digital jobs in the UK, and new jobs are created at over twice the rate of the non-digital sector. As such, it is important that whichever political party comes into power on 8th June ensures they have a plan in place to guarantee that the technology sector continues to grow and thrive. With monumental political negotiations slated to take place as the UK leaves the EU, it is vital that the government takes into account what potential impacts these will have on the digital economy and have the tools and information available to make the best decision for the sector and nation as a whole.”
“CompTIA has launched this manifesto, on behalf of the UK technology industry, to help all political parties understand what needs to be addressed to ensure that the UK continues to thrive as a digital hub. From digital strategy through to developing a world class technology workforce, whichever party is in power must look to work with organisations and bodies within the sector to secure a prosperous technology industry, and sustained job creation for a healthy UK economy in the future.”
Niels Turfboer, managing director UK and Benelux at Spotcap, however, believes “the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems all address and recognise the growing importance of the tech and digital sector for the UK. And whichever party wins, it will be their chance – and duty – to help strengthen a digital economy to ensure the future prosperity of the UK.”
This attitude will be crucial in maintaining the high standards of the fintech sector, which plays an important role in the UK. It contributes approximately £7 billion to the British economy and employs over 60,000 people nationwide.
“The fintech sector is highly dependent on skilled labour and the attraction of local as well as international talent remains a priority for British companies. It is therefore important that all parties, regardless of the final result this Thursday, work together to continue to promote the UK as an attractive and competitive place to live and conduct business.”
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