Richard Bell

Government unveils new Strategy to ‘protect and strengthen’ UK’s digital sectors

The Government has today (March 1) unveiled plans to make the UK the best place in the world for people to launch and grow digital enterprises.

The new Digital Strategy will see businesses, charities and voluntary organisations working with the Government, equipping Brits with the skills needed for the digital jobs in their area and publicising the training opportunities available.

Part of the strategy outlines a new Digital Skills Partnership that will see Lloyds Banking Group provide face-to-face skills training to 2.5 million individuals, charities and SMEs by 2020.

Barclays, meanwhile, will teach basic coding to 45k more children and help as many as one million people with digital skills and cyber awareness.

The two banks are joined by tech giant Google, which has pledged to boost digital skills in Britain’s seaside towns.

In total, the strategy will see the creation of over four million free digital skills training opportunities.

The Government hopes that the drive, together with the recently unveiled Industrial Strategy, will help Britain build on its strengths and cement its future as a globally competitive nation.

The Digital Strategy will also include the creation of five international tech hubs in emerging markets, potentially fostering partnerships between UK companies and tech firms based overseas.

The plans likewise outline details of a competition aimed at sparking the development of new fintech products to support people struggling to access financial services or manage their money.

Data shows that in 2015, the UK’s fintech sector was worth over £6.6bn.

Elsewhere, the strategy will see the Government create a tech community forum led by the Secretary of State; develop a business connectivity forum chaired by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; and provide confirmation of the £1bn programme to keep Britain at the fore of digital connectivity that was first announced in last year’s Autumn Statement.

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, 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.”

She continued: “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.”

Lloyds Banking Group’s managing director for consumer and commercial digital, Nick Williams, commented: “I’m delighted that Lloyds Banking Group, as part of its new Helping Britain Prosper Plan, has made such a significant commitment to improve digital skills in the UK.

“By working with the Digital Skills Partnership, and our key partners such as Google and The Good Things Foundation, we can help to tackle some of the issues raised by the Government’s Digital Strategy.”

He added: “Our commitment to provide face-to-face support will make a huge difference to millions of individuals, small businesses and charities across the UK.”

The strategy also outlines measures, announced earlier this week, to support Britain’s AI sector.

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