The week in tech: Diversity, tech in Africa, NHS and more

New funding to boost diversity in tech

The UK government has created funds to enable underrepresented groups to gain tech roles and to improve the everyday digital skills of the elderly and disabled.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) package includes a £1 million Digital Skills Innovation Fund will help people from underrepresented groups gain the skills they need to work in digital roles, such as; data analysts, programmers, cyber security specialists, software developers and marketeers. An additional £400,000 will help older and disabled people get life-changing digital skills.

According to the government, 17% of women make up the tech workforce and are underrepresented in the uptake of digital qualifications. Unemployed adults are five per cent more likely to lack the basic digital skills than the national average.

>See also: Diversity in tech is essential for business success: How to achieve it?

Margot James, Minister of State, DCMS

Minister for Digital, Margot James said: “It is crucial everyone is able to take advantage of digital technology, whether it is to learn how to use the internet or develop the skills to work in a tech role.”

“If we want to maintain our position as a world-leading digital economy we need to work with industry, local authorities and the voluntary sector to develop solutions so no-one is left behind.”

>See also: What are the advantages of diversity for tech businesses?

Google, Twitter and Facebook to testify in US Senate again

Senior executives of Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc.’s Google will testify to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on the 5th of September.

The hearing is entitled “Foreign influence operations and their use of social media platforms.” According to Reuters, Senator Mark Warner, the committee’s Democratic vice chairman, confirmed that the hearing will be an opportunity to press the tech giants to explain what plans they have in place to stop international political influence on their platforms.

This will be the second time the Senate Intelligence Committee will have called the companies to testify. But it will be the first time that senior leadership will attend.

>See also: Tech Titans emerge in Europe: The beginning of the end of Big Tech?

NHS IT system to be upgraded

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has promised to renew the current NHS IT network, claiming it would be unacceptable in any other 21st-century organisation.

After completing an overnight shift at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he witnessed staff reverting to pen and paper, in a lengthy Facebook post the health secretary announced: “I was already motivated to improve the IT of the NHS – but boy! Chelsea & Westminster Hospital is one of the better trusts for IT, but even there there is so far to go.”

This follows Hancock’s announcement last month for a £487 million funding package to create the “most advanced health system in the world.”

>Read more here.

UK Government’s announce series of Innovation Projects in Africa

During Theresa May’s three-day tour of Africa, The UK government has announced a series of ambitious new Innovation Partnerships between the UK and Africa which are expected to spur economic growth and help create thousands of new jobs.

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “These new Innovation Partnerships will not only help countries turbocharge their development, but they will also promote the UK as the place to start and grow a digital business.”

>See also: Can the cloud help educate girls in Africa?

“Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya’s technology sectors are growing rapidly and generating a significant part of their economic output. This means huge opportunities for UK businesses and for future partnerships.”

“New ideas, game-changing research and cutting-edge science are good news for our African partners and good news for the UK’s world-leading scientists, technologists and researchers who are representing the country on a global stage.”

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: “Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3.2 per cent in 2018 and to a further 3.5 per cent in 2019, according to the latest 2018 World Bank report. Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa represent a significant part of that growth with technology increasingly underpinning these numbers.”

>See also: How Africa is leading the way in the IoT

“The decision to set up Innovation Partnerships and extend the tech hub network to these African nations shows the Government clearly recognises this opportunity.”

“The decision will allow the UK tech community to engage with high-growth markets internationally, and in turn provide an important corridor for international communities to engage with our burgeoning UK tech sector.”

Nominations are now open for the Women in IT Awards London and Women in IT Awards Silicon Valley. Nominate yourself, a colleague or someone in your network now! The Women in IT Awards Series – organised by Information Age – aims to tackle this issue and redress the gender imbalance, by showcasing the achievements of women in the sector and identifying new role models

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future

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