National digital strategy could drive recovery

Technology holds the key to revitalising our economy after the battering it has received following months of lockdown. With that in mind, the government has promised a new national digital strategy to boost jobs and supercharge the digital economy due to be published in the Autumn.

Speaking at the UK Tech Cluster Group’s Road to Recovery summit in June, the UK’s first conference on economic recovery from Covid-19, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said the priority needed to be on how technology could be used to power the UK out of recession, drive productivity and create jobs across the economy.

“Coronavirus has fundamentally altered our lives and the role that tech plays within it”

Dowden said grassroots tech communities in Brighton and other IT hubs had a huge role to play in powering growth and productivity across the whole of our United Kingdom. “Coronavirus has fundamentally altered our lives and the role that tech plays within it,” Dowden said.

Dowden hinted at several key areas likely to be included in the strategy. They include creation of a data regime that allows businesses and public services of all shapes and sizes to use and share vital information quickly, efficiently and ethically. Success also requires ways to build a highly-skilled digital workforce across every region of the UK, and having a world-class infrastructure, he added.

Previous digital strategies have addressed important questions such as how to build 21st century digital infrastructure or how to make the UK the safest place to go online. “These are all still important questions, and must continue to form a central part of all Government thinking on digital,” Dowden said.

Our regulatory regime for digital must by pro-competitive, pro-innovation, agile, and proportionate, Dowden added. “We must avoid unnecessary layers of regulations and ensure we have a coherent and consistent approach to drive growth.”

Technology is proving pivotal to helping us find a new normal as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Around half of UK workers now work remotely or from home, remote doctors’ appointments are fast becoming the norm and the way we communicate with friends and family has changed out of all recognition.

“Of course it’s turbocharged the digital transformation of almost every part of our days – of our workplaces, our businesses, the way we shop and stay in touch with family, and the way we use public services.

“While the entrepreneurial nature of the UK and its strong track record for technical innovation stood it in good stead to capitalise on the opportunities, it was important not to be complacent,” Dowden said.

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