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Oct 11, 2016

Industry insights,

Can the UK become a leader in technology?

Whatever you voted back in June, and whatever your opinion (and let’s face it, we all have one), the UK have decided to ‘leave’ the European Union. As the dust settles and people start to speculate on the effects of Brexit to our economy, it’s hard to believe that something good can come from it.

Speaking at Microsoft's Transform conference in London, Matthew Gould; the director-general for The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, highlighted the need for Britain to close the skills gap currently threatening the country's technology sector.

He added "A fifth of adults in the UK lack very basic digital skills. One in ten adults say they don't use the internet. A quarter of small businesses and charities say that ‘digital’ is irrelevant to them."

"Just think about the implications of that for a moment. That means there are literally hundreds of thousands, millions of people in the UK, who aren't able to be part of this exciting digital economy that we're creating."

Gould also recognised the efforts and headway that are currently being made by the government to close this gap in skills, which included the implementation of a new digital-focused curriculum, that ensures coding is compulsory for every eight-year-old.

"What we want to make sure is that we provide people that can help transform society and business," he said. "We need the public to be computer-literate, but we need specialist computer scientists to be at the heart of the continuing digital revolution." 

Children on a computer

However, whilst he acknowledged that there was still a long way to go in developing these skills, he put his ‘stake in the ground’ in saying that he is confident that the UK can thrive outside of the European Union with this focus on digital technology.

“One thing I am certain of is that, as we prepare to leave the EU, our future prosperity, our future wellbeing as a nation, depends on us being connected, cyber secure, innovation friendly and digitally skilled.”

When expanding on connectivity, he said that the government’s aim of delivering a minimum of 10Mbps nationwide, whilst ambitious, will be the foundation for improved infrastructure. 

"We see the importance that the digital economy has to the future, prosperity and wellbeing of this country, and we are putting in place the essential building blocks to make that a success," Gould made it known, however, that UK businesses will be the cornerstone of development for UK technology.

"We can't do this ourselves. We need partners; we need you," he said. "We're all going to have to be part of this story, and I'm very much looking forward to working with you on it."

For the UK to compete against and trade with other countries we are going to have to define our USP. Having a key strength in technology will go a long way in differentiating our capabilities. 

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