UK government launches Digital Strategy plan

March 1, 2017 | 11:06

Tags: #ai #brexit #dcms #education #fintech #karen-bradley #training

Companies: #government #uk-government

The UK government has announced a 'Digital Strategy' which includes the creation of a 'Digital Skills Partnership' it claims will offer free training opportunities for citizens looking to re-skill.

Announced this week by the government, the new UK Digital Strategy is designed to make it more tempting for technology companies to set up shop in the nation and for existing companies to stay, even as the country flings itself headlong into the unknown abyss of exiting the European Union. As part of the strategy, the government has partnered with companies to develop new and free training solutions to help citizens increase their skills and has pledged to establish five international technology hubs in emerging markets - the latter a clear effort to offset the potential loss of access to the European Single Market.

'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,' crowed Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, at the announcement. 'To do that, we will work closely with businesses and others to make sure the benefits and opportunities are spread across the country so nobody is left behind. 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 government's pledges include the launch of a competition to spark development of finance technology (FinTech) products, a forum led by the Secretary of State for the technology community and the government to work more closely together, a Business Community Forum designed to aid businesses in accessing high-speed yet affordable broadband connectivity, confirmation of the £1 billion high-speed connectivity programme announced back in the Autumn Statement, and the establishment of five international technology hubs in emerging markets based on the existing UK-Israel Tech Hub model.

For those seeking training in technology skills, the government's pledges include a Digital Skills Partnership that will see private companies offering free training. Partners include: Google, which will bring its Summer of Skills training programme to coastal towns across the UK with a view to improving tourism and growth; Lloyds Banking Group, which is to offer face-to-face training to 2.5 million individuals, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and charities between now and 2020; Barclays, which is looking to double the size of its Eagle Lab network, offer programming training to 45,000 children, and support up to a million people with 'general digital skills and cyber awareness' this year; BT, which is to expand its existing Barefoot Computing Project to cover a further 500,000 children; the HP Foundation, which is to launch an online learning platform dubbed HP Life in the UK with a modest goal of reaching 6,000 new users over the next five years; and Accenture, which is partnering with FutureLearn to develop a new national digital skills programme designed to boost learning through online collaboration.

Elsewhere in the strategy document are references to a major review of artificial intelligence technology, led by Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti, and a £17.3 million funding boost from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for robotics and AI development at a university level. The full Digital Strategy was published this morning on GOV.UK for public viewing.
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