Government launches Digital Strategy

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has launched the government’s Digital Strategy which aims to create a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone.

The strategy, which aims to position the UK at the head if the digital revolution in the wake of its impending exit from the EU, will see over four million free digital skills training opportunities created through a new Digital Skills Partnership.

Among commitments made in the strategy: Lloyds Banking Group are planning to provide face-to-face digital skills training to 2.5 million individuals, charities and small and medium businesses by 2020; Barclays will aim to teach basic coding to 45,000 more children and assist up to one million people with general digital skills and cyber awareness; and Google have pledged, as part of their commitment of five hours of free digital skills for everyone, to help boost digital skills in seaside towns.

Much like the recent Industrial Strategy, the strategy hopes to capitalise upon string business relationships, and will therefore seek to create five international tech hubs in emerging markets to create and develop partnerships between UK companies and local tech firms. The hubs will be based upon the successful UK-Israel Tech Hub which to date has delivered more than 80 partnerships with a deal value of £62 million.

Furthermore, the government will build on the UK’s existing lead in the FinTech sector, which was worth more than £6.6 billion in 2015, to spark the development of new FinTech products that can support those who struggle to access financial services and provide consumers with the tools they need to manage their finances well.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport will also chair a Business Connectivity Forum, to bring together business organisations, local authorities and communications providers to help businesses access fast, affordable and reliable broadband.

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.

“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.”

Despite the excitement generated by the government over the strategy, some experts have claimed that the strategy is lacking in detail and does not go far enough.

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