Last month, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond laid out ambitious plans that would help secure Britain’s position as a world leader in technology and innovation as part of his 2017 Budget announcement.
More money has been pledged for artificial intelligence (£75m) and the development of the national 5G mobile network (£160m) to support the tech and digital industries that will form “the backbone of the global economy of the future”.
He stressed a need to boost the number of trained computer science teachers and ultimately drive the development of digital skills for the 21st century’s workforce and this would be supported by £100m and a new National Centre for Computing.
This is of course welcome news for our industry, and others, as evidence would suggest the UK is losing its place on the world stage when it comes to the development of cutting-edge technologies, top-cited scientific research and artificial intelligence inventions.
The question we must ask is, is it too little, too late? The same research from the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) suggests 70% of AI technological development is happening in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China. The investment these countries are making in this field is off the charts compared to the UK, especially when most secondary schools across the UK don’t even offer computer science at GCSE.
Yet Hammond is determined to grow the tech sector in order to benefit the wider economy, create more jobs and increase salaries. He appreciates that while the technology is developing today, it will continue to evolve and the next generation of programmers and engineers need to be moulded early on in order to fill the high productivity jobs of tomorrow.
Putting technology front and centre of his plans for post-Brexit Britain, Hammond has committed to these innovations and investments emerging not just at universities and research institutes, but across the commercial sector.
“A new tech business is founded in Britain every hour. I want that to be every half hour.”
As such, £20 billion of investment and a new £2.5 billion fund for start-ups from the British Business Bank will support regulatory innovation and help develop a strategy to back economic growth and help these start-ups to progress.
How do they do that? With a fresh supply of enthusiastic and entrepreneurial talent of course. The government is planning to nurture said talent with the introduction of a retraining partnership with the TUC and CBI to boost digital skills, funded by a further £76m that will be shared by the construction sector.
All too often, new thinking can meet roadblocks in the form of regulation. Steps will be taken to remove these as much as possible and allow for more testing and product development. Fantastic news, particularly for the telecommunications industry as we are constantly striving to be one step ahead of consumers, clients and the competition in terms of what’s to come.
We are always working to budgets, but this is one we are happy to work with, for the benefit of all.
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net