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Our digital economy will only bear fruit if it benefits everyone in the UK

Our digital economy will only bear fruit if it benefits everyone in the UK

Friday, June 09, 2023 5:00 AM

By means of:

David Medes

David Meads is the CEO of Cisco UK and Ireland

There is a strong digital skills gap in the UK that needs to be bridged. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

The UK Tech Plan is very welcome, but we can only fully benefit from the digital economy and technological innovation if we close the digital skills gap, writes David Meads

The UK’s economic future is inextricably linked to the continued and growing success of technology. It is the main driver of progress in our cities and regions, shaping the way we produce, connect and innovate, giving everyone access to more and better goods and services on which our economy fundamentally depends.

The world is going through some of the most groundbreaking technological transformations we’ve ever seen, likely to change our lives beyond recognition. So it is vital that the UK maintains and builds on its position as a tech superpower. Continued focus on research and innovation is vital to achieving this in areas such as AI, which already contributes £3.7bn to the UK economy, and quantum computing, which will improve lives, from accelerating the discovery of medicines to increasing the resilience of our transport systems.

We therefore welcome techUK’s recommendations in its recently launched UK Tech Plan, which will help ensure the UK can build on recent positive steps to deliver on its digital roadmap. The introduction of the first-ever Whitehall branch dedicated to science, innovation and technology, and a 10-year vision to position the UK as a leading quantum economy are all strong propositions.

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The UK Tech Plan identifies a number of critical ways our industry can work more closely with the next UK government to harness the power of technology to improve the everyday lives of every citizen, drive economic growth, transform public services and save the planet. to protect. The plan also contains important recommendations to ensure that regulations and policies can keep pace with technological changes, for example in the field of artificial intelligence.

A strong digital economy delivering innovation, growth, jobs and global competitiveness is only possible with ubiquitous digital skills. Yet a digital skills gap remains in the UK, leaving us with an urgent need to train and upskill millions of workers. To bridge the gap, we need to create a steady and sustainable flow of skilled people to fill millions of new jobs. Enabling a more inclusive approach to technology – including recruiting and developing talent from all corners of the UK – will create opportunities for the economy as a whole.

There are already plenty of free skills programs offered by companies, schools, and non-profit organizations. The key is driving awareness, consistency and ease of access. For example, our Skills for All initiative offers mobile-focused, self-paced courses that are available to everyone for free.

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Focusing on inclusion is key to growth. Economic modeling from the Center for Economic and Business Research has shown that a more inclusive digital society could add £168 billion to the economy by 2030. already employed but lacking digital skills.

Prioritizing technology and creating a truly inclusive digital society is now critical to giving the UK economy a much-needed boost and securing our digital future. Now is the time to take digital innovation to the next level so that this country can compete on a global scale.

From access to world-class public services and online experiences to better jobs and greater earning potential, everyone should have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from the digital economy and all the exciting opportunities it offers. We hope that current and future government leaders will embrace these recommendations, in the interest of the whole country.

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