The latest digital strategy put forward by the government has been welcomed by many experts in the technology industry. Although, some have said the strategy is ambiguous and lacks detail.
On top of promises to improve and expand digital skills training within the UK, the government has said it will provide a £17 million boost for the UK’s artificial intelligence sector.
>See also: The UK Government’s Transformation Strategy
The strategy also includes a plan to create five international technology hubs in emerging markets, which will allow UK companies to maintain a global presence.
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 digital skills gap is a serious issue. As an example, a report by (ISC)² expects a global shortfall of cyber security workers to reach 1.8 million in 5 years.
That is just in the cyber security industry. In the UK, 46% of the survey’s respondents said that this skills gap was or will impact their business.
The strategy will tackle this problem by aiming to help adults who lack core digital skills by offering free training.
In order to achieve this the strategy has secured pledges from private sector organisations:
Google will launch a summer programme to teach digital skills aimed at boosting tourism and growth in coastal towns.
Lloyds Banking Group will offer face-to-face digital skills training to millions of individuals and businesses.
Barclays will teach basic coding to 45,000 children and general digital skills and cyber-awareness to one million people.
However, Chris Pennell, an analyst with research company Ovum, said this won’t be enough.
“We need to invest in education and start-ups and skills,” he said.
“I would like to see more long-term thinking about education and digital skills because digital businesses will be crucial to the economy after Brexit,” he told the BBC.
Tech City UK chief executive Gerard Grech said: “The UK’s tech sector is rapidly becoming a global force to reckon with, but we must ensure that we stay ahead by continuing to provide a supportive environment for British start-ups and digital companies to grow in, especially since other countries are trying to take advantage of our departure from the European Union.”
As part of the strategy the government will invest £17.3 million into artificial intelligence and robotics research at UK universities.
“The government’s pledge to boost UK research in universities is welcomed,” said Peter Pugh-Jones, Head of Technology at SAS UK & Ireland.
“As a nation built on a foundation of technical and engineering innovation, we’re constantly looking for reasonable and sustainable ways to boost productivity and efficiency. Artificial intelligence is the next logical step for our digital economy, especially when it comes to engaging the ‘Data Generation’, who are looking for a quicker and more efficient service online.”
Lucy Dimes, CEO, Fujitsu UK & Ireland felt the same way and said that while “Government investment is helpful…companies should also draw on the excellent network of expertise available in the UK. By working with expert partners, UK businesses can understand the potential of AI for them and develop and scale new solutions at speed.”
“Artificial intelligence has exceptional potential, from transforming customer service through chatbots to freeing up time spent on administration. There will be great rewards for the businesses that can seize this opportunity early.”
Ultimately, this post-Brexit strategy aims to build on the Government Transformation Strategy, with the overall aim of improving public services and the inherently, the relationship between citizens and the state.