What UK tech needs from a new government

Ahead of Thursday’s general election, industry body CompTIA has published its manifesto for the digital sector’s requirements out of the next government. 

The trade association outlines five key proposals for the next UK government to guarantee that the nation’s digital economy continues to thrive. 

  1. Cross party endorsement for key parts of the UK Digital Strategy to give certainty to the UK’s digital future – The next government needs to endorse key parts of the UK’s Digital Strategy, including digital skills, investment, infrastructure and regional hubs. This will give certainty to UK businesses and citizens to take the actions needed to make the UK a global leader in digital.
  1. Digital skills (benchmarked to industry standards) must be a core component of all apprenticeships – All political parties must make digital skills a core component of apprenticeships alongside Maths and English in their manifestos. This follows the recommendation made by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee in the last Parliament. The government must also continue engagement with private sector training providers to ensure high quality standards in apprenticeships now and into the future.
  1. For a world-class technical education system, the UK must avoid a ‘one size fits all’ approach to digital skill qualifications – All political parties must seek a more flexible approach to T-levels. In A-Levels, there are seven national exam board awarding bodies (across England, Wales and Northern Ireland) from which colleges and schools can choose qualifications. A similar broader qualification approval system for T-Levels would allow existing digital skill training qualifications, which are internationally recognised and endorsed by business to be incorporated.
  1. The UK needs collaborative local careers advice that promotes digital careers and local digital job opportunities – Cross party scrutiny on how local SMEs can be involved productively in this careers advice process, as well as measures to tackle outdated stereotypes will be important if such a forum is to be successful.
  1. SMEs must be at the heart of the UK Digital Strategy to lead to success in areas such as tech ecosystems and skill pipelines – The next government should put SMEs at the heart of the digital agenda. Two areas in particular need this SME centric focus; regional tech ecosystems and specialist skill pipelines.

Graham Hunter, vice president, EMEA at CompTIA, said: “The digital market has become of vital importance to the UK’s economy, highlighted in a recent report from Tech Nation, which revealed that there are 1.64 million digital jobs in the UK, and new jobs are created at over twice the rate of the non-digital sector. As such, it is important that whichever political party comes into power on June 8th ensures they have a plan in place to guarantee that the technology sector continues to grow and thrive. With monumental political negotiations slated to take place as the UK leaves the EU, it is vital that the government takes into account what potential impacts these will have on the digital economy and have the tools and information available to make the best decision for the sector and nation as a whole.

“CompTIA has launched this manifesto, on behalf of the UK technology industry, to help all political parties understand what needs to be addressed to ensure that the UK continues to thrive as a digital hub. From digital strategy through to developing a world class technology workforce, whichever party is in power must look to work with organisations and bodies within the sector to secure a prosperous technology industry, and sustained job creation for a healthy UK economy in the future.”

Technology has become a central part of the election agenda in the wake of the Manchester and London attacks over the past couple of weeks, with Conservative leader Theresa May calling for a tighter grip on the internet. In addition, the skills gap has been highlighted as a key area, with all sides of the political spectrum providing their input into how that can be filled. 

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