Tuesday, 7 March 2017

UK Government Embarks on New Digital Strategy

The UK has been a world leader in digital technology and the digital economy for a while now. More importantly, our position as a world leader is not something we have come by through mere accident or coincidence. It has been a concerted effort by government leaders and the private sector to build the infrastructure and business environment necessary to be a world leader. And now the government intends to go even further with a brand-new Digital Strategy for the UK.

A press release issued by the Culture Secretary on 1st March lays out plans by which the government hopes to ensure that Britain is the best place in the world to ‘start and grow a digital business’. Officially dubbed the 'Digital Strategy', the government plan calls for:

·        developing the skills, infrastructure and innovation necessary to support the digital economy in Britain;
·        developing new Digital Skills Partnerships for the purposes of creating digital training opportunities; and
·        supporting the digital sector through long-term investments intended to promote productivity and innovation.

The Culture Secretary estimates that the programme will create in the region of 4 million free digital skills training opportunities through partnerships between government, charities, volunteer organisations and the private sector. Training opportunities should ensure that there are enough skilled workers to support the growing number of digital businesses estimated to crop up over the next 5 to 10 years.

The Culture Secretary recognised three specific companies:

·        Lloyds Banking Group – Plans to train 2.5 million individuals, SMEs and charities.
·        Google – Plans to offer five hours of free digital skills training to individuals.
·        Barclays – Plans to train 45,000 young people in basic coding and as many as 1 million adults in general digital skills.

The Culture Secretary's press release indicates that the Digital Strategy is part of the larger Industrial Strategy the government is hoping will make Britain the most competitive nation in the world. If the strategy succeeds, Britain will be the place to both locate digital businesses and innovate technologies that will drive the future.

The Coming Digital Economy

Those of us already active in the digital world are not at all surprised by the government's action. As much as we rely on digital technology in the current day and age, the future looks even more digitally inclusive. Computers are getting more powerful, networks are expanding, and global communications are as robust as they have ever been. The coming digital economy of 2020 and beyond will make what we do today look pale by comparison.

The government and private sector businesses supporting the Digital Strategy are right to assume that our strategy to remain a world leader cannot be sustained without proper training and investment. They are making an effort to provide what we need to continue being the world leader. Indeed, the Digital Strategy could end up being one of the best things we have ever done to help ourselves on the world stage.



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