Government’s New Single Vision for Growing the Digital Economy: Addressing Tech Sector Skills, Investment and Infrastructure
Measures to keep the UK tech sector future-proof include an external review of UK computing power and a new expert council to tackle the digital skills gap.
The government has unveiled its new plan to grow the economy and create more high-skilled, better-paying jobs by cementing the UK as a global tech superpower, building on our position as Europe’s top destination for starting and growing digital businesses.
Marking the start of London Tech Week, the UK’s new digital strategy launched today brings together the digital and technology policies of all governments into a unified roadmap to ensure digital technology, infrastructure and data drive economic growth. and innovation in the coming years. The scheme will create new jobs, skills and services that will benefit and raise standards across the UK.
It includes bringing together technology leaders in a new Digital Skills Council to address the skills gap and a review of the UK’s large-scale computing capabilities, vital to powering future technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.
New figures released today show that more than £12bn in venture capital funding has been secured by UK tech startups and expansions so far this year, which is more than all of 2020. It puts the UK just behind the US and ahead of China in Financing secured by technology start-ups so far this year.
Since the government launched its first digital strategy in 2017, the UK tech sector has boomed, growing more than two and a half times faster than the economy as a whole.
Last year, a new tech unicorn (private companies valued at $1 billion) was created every 11 days, more than doubling the number of unicorns in the UK since 2017. As Europe’s leading digital hub, the tech sector of the United Kingdom raised more private capital and recorded more public listings. than any EU country in 2021.
The new strategy will build on these successes to grow a more innovative, inclusive and competitive digital economy that creates more high-skilled jobs and better choice for consumers across the UK.
Estimates suggest that the government’s approach to supporting and strengthening the digital economy could grow the annual GVA of the UK tech sector by a further £41.5bn by 2025 and create a further 678,000 jobs.
Digital Minister Chris Philp said at a London Tech Week panel this morning:
Developed economies face long-term challenges around growth, productivity, and real wages. Just as Thatcher unleashed the power of the market to transform our economy in the 1980s, unleashing the power of the tech sector will transform our economy today.
Over the last five years, the UK has jumped ahead of Europe to become a global technology leader and we are now setting the course for the future. The Digital Strategy is the roadmap that we will follow to strengthen our global position as a scientific and technological superpower. Our future prosperity and place in the world depends on it.
The plan consolidates the government’s ambitions in six areas essential for sustained digital growth:
Infrastructure: Deployment of world-class digital infrastructure and a growth-friendly regulatory regime that protects citizens while encouraging investment and innovation.
Ideas and Intellectual Property – Stimulating innovation through research and development and increasing the UK’s expertise in future technologies, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing.
Skills and Talent: Strengthen the tech talent pipeline with the digital skills the economy needs at every stage, from school to lifelong learning, and a full suite of visas to attract the brightest minds from around the world.
Financing digital growth: encouraging UK capital, including pension funds, to be invested in British expansion companies to support long-term growth and lead support for innovation through InnovateUK and the British Business Bank .
A National Focus: Helping businesses across all regions adopt the latest technologies and spread the benefits of a strong digital economy across the country.
Global leadership: collaborating on international digital trade and technology governance systems centered on freedom and openness.
Over eighty per cent of all UK jobs advertised now require digital skills, yet employers say a lack of available talent is the biggest factor holding back growth. Estimates suggest that the digital skills gap is costing the UK economy up to £63bn a year in potential GDP.
As part of the government’s ambition to address the gap at all levels, a new Digital Skills Council will bring together industry leaders and training experts from Starling, Amazon Web Services and Multiverse. By working directly with employers, the council will encourage investment in employer-led training to upskill the workforce. The council, chaired by Digital Minister Chris Philp and Phil Smith CBE FREng, chairman of UK semiconductor firm IQE Plc, will look at digital skills from schools to lifelong learning. The group will also look at ways the industry can inspire the next generation of talent from a wide range of backgrounds to consider a digital career.
By helping more people access interesting, sustainable and well-paying jobs through a variety of routes, the government’s plans for digital careers will unlock the potential of British businesses and grow the economy by billions of pounds.
The Office for Students was also announced today as the provider of up to 2,000 government-funded scholarships to ensure the UK has the advanced digital skills it needs to maintain the country’s leading position in AI and cutting-edge data science. The Office for Students will allocate up to £23m to universities to fund scholarships from 2023. The funding will be available for students from low socio-economic backgrounds, as well as black, female and disabled students to ensure that AI built and used in the UK reflects the composition of our society. Organizations across the country can play their part in boosting the future pool of AI talent through matching funding scholarships for AI conversion and data science courses with more information on the Office for Students website.
Over the next decade, many aspects of business and research will be transformed by advanced “computing”: large-scale processing power, memory, data storage, and networks that do work that everyday computers can’t. do. It is an enabling technology needed to maximize the potential of AI, Internet of Things sensors, and quantum computing. Advanced computing capabilities are becoming essential to biology, chemistry, physics, and almost every other area of research by helping to model the effects of climate change, powering new drug discovery, and modeling future pandemics.
Today marks the start of an external review of the future of computing to ensure the UK has the computing power it needs to drive these changes. The review will be led by the world’s leading academic in the field of machine learning, Professor Zoubin Ghahramani, Vice President of Research at Google and Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and will inform the long-term focus of this important area. .
Naomi Weir, Director of Innovation at CBI, said:
We are pleased that the government has listened to our calls for a single vision for the digital economy and the importance of simplified regulation that supports investment and innovation.
At a time when the country is facing fierce headwinds, in the form of inflation and supply chain challenges, unleashing investment is more crucial than ever. The digital sector is a bright spot in our economy and an area where we are beating our weight internationally.
We cannot waste a moment in bringing this strategy to life, with required actions on skills, regulation, adoption of cutting-edge technology, and advocacy for the role of digital commerce. The companies and the CBI are ready to work with the government to make this happen.
Julian David, CEO of techUK, said:
Innovation in technology will be essential to deliver the jobs, growth and prosperity that the UK needs. techUK welcomes the digital strategy which provides a unique vision important to government for the digital economy.
The execution of this plan will help keep the UK at the forefront of leading digital economies in a world that is increasingly competitive in technology. We know what we have to do, now is the time to go ahead and do it.
Notes to editors
Read the digital strategy
The government will also set out more details on plans for other major digital industries in the coming weeks and months:
- A response to the public consultation on data reforms now that we have left the EU will be published shortly. Later this year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will publish the UK’s first quantum strategy.
- Before the end of the year, the government will publish a Semiconductor Strategy covering its domestic and international approach to this strategically important sector and a review of the UK’s position on the resilience of the broader global supply chain.
- An AI Governance White Paper will also be published later this year that will set out a simple approach to regulating AI, so that the rules keep pace with fast-moving technology without affecting innovation.