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Government sets out post-Brexit digital strategy

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The government wants millions more to gain digital skills

The government has launched its plan to keep the UK at the forefront of the digital revolution in the wake of its impending exit from the European Union.

It includes plans to offer digital skills to millions of individuals, charities and businesses by 2020.

It also plans to create five international technology hubs in emerging markets to allow UK companies to maintain their global edge.

Experts said the strategy was lacking in detail.

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 government wants to help adults who lack core digital skills to access free training.

It has secured the following 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

Chris Pennell, an analyst with research company Ovum, said the plans did not go far 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.

The government also plans to create two forums, one for the government and the technology community “to work together to spark growth in the digital economy” and the other to help businesses better access fast broadband.

But Mr Pennell questioned the need for what he called talking shops.

“We already have technology forums so why do we need more?” he asked.

“We would be better off joining up the ones that we already have.”

Robotics

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.”

Earlier this week, the government announced a major review into artificial intelligence to ensure the nascent technology could thrive in the UK.

It included £17.3m of funding for robotics and AI research at UK universities.

The digital strategy builds on the Government Transformation Strategy, launched earlier this month, which maps out how the government intends to improve the relationship between citizens and the state and improve public services.

It includes plans to make it easier to renew passports and report crimes.


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