The Government Digital Strategy was launched today, putting connectivity, digital skills, and improving businesses with technology at the top of the agenda.
The publication of the strategy follows the Government Transformation Strategy which was launched last month, in which digital technology was one of its areas of focus.
The Government Digital Strategy expands on its aims in the space, and consists of seven key areas: connectivity; digital skills and inclusion; making the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business; making all British businesses digital; a safe and secure cyberspace; transforming government to make it more digital; and making the most out of data.
In a speech today, culture secretary Karen Bradley said more than four million free digital skills training opportunities will be created as part of the Government Digital Strategy, detailing specific examples of companies that are working with government on this.
"Lloyds Banking Group will give face-to-face digital skills training to 2.5 million individuals, charities, and SMBs by 2020; Barclays plans to teach basic coding to 45,000 more children and assist up to one million people with general digital skills and cyber awareness; Google, as part of its commitment to five hours of free digital skills for everyone, has pledged to help boost digital skills in seaside towns," she said.
On top of this, HP announced plans to help plug the skills gap, in conjunction with the government's announcement.
"The STEM worker shortfall is estimated to be at 40,000 each year in the UK and with more jobs being created to meet the shifting demands of the digital economy, this gap is widening," said HP's UK boss George Brasher. "We believe we have a responsibility to partner with government, teachers, parents, pupils and other industry leaders to enhance digital learning and close the skills gap."
As part of this, HP has pledged to introduce to the UK its HP Graphics Education Programme which it claims will "empower the next generation of digital printing graduates with the skills they need to work in the rapidly changing digital printing space".
Further, it will expand its Learning Studios initiative to help schools use the latest technology kit, and the HP Foundation will bring a free online learning platform to the UK, aiming to reach 6,000 new users in the next five years.
Many in the industry welcomed the Government Digital Strategy.
Guy Beaudin, public sector business development director at Insight UK said: "This new digital strategy demonstrates the government's recognition that new technologies must be embraced if the public sector is to stay relevant in a tough political and economic landscape. Benefits of digitisation in the public sector are huge; from new, improved services for citizens to enhancing efficiency within organisations, better fraud management and even saving lives.
"It's vital for the industry to foster digital collaboration between public sector agencies, charities and businesses to bring together a unique understanding of sector challenges and specialist knowledge of the latest ICT solutions. The Digital Skills Partnership is certainly a step in the right direction, but it requires the education of an entire workforce rather than just the decision makers to realise the full potential of digitisation. Businesses need to embrace digital tools on a daily basis and ensure data security guidance is in place to drive innovation, productivity and thrive in today's modern world."
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