Powerful UK consortium recommends ‘digital ministers’ for next government
Tue 16 Sep 2014
A collective of major British technology firms have published a visionary manifesto which calls for ‘dedicated Digital Ministers’ in every government department, and a ‘smart migration policy’ to attract wealth creators and skilled workers to the UK.
The techUK manifesto for growth and jobs 2015 – 2020 runs to 65 pages and urges Britain’s leaders to consolidate the recent growth in Britain’s technology sector with long-term digital strategies for education, innovation and business.
techUK CEO Julian David said: “Tech and digital have a fundamental role to play in almost everything the next government will need to do, as we continue to rebuild our economy for the 21st century…The key message for politicians is that voters and industry alike want the Government to secure our digital future.”
The group’s formidable list of members includes Apple (UK), BT Group, Ernst & Young, IBM and Sony.
The manifesto appeals for a cohesive digital strategy at governmental level, and advocates that all government departments should include a ministerial post which includes ‘digital’ in its remit.
The report covers its bases politically, emphasising the need to drive Britain’s digital economy forward with public sector reform and impetus from the private sector, but also calls on future governments to ring-fence the science budget.
Point 3.2 of the manifesto advocates a selective relaxation of immigration procedures in the case of migrant tech talent:
“Recent changes to immigration policy are making it much harder for the tech sector to access the global skills base and making the UK much less attractive to global talent and entrepreneurship. To be a global hub for tech we must have a smart immigration policy that is open to and welcomes entrepreneurs and future wealth creators; developers and engineers with key skills; students and researchers who can keep our universities at the forefront of academic excellence; and teachers who can inspire and educate the next generation.”
On the subject of digital security, the paper proposes that the UK become ‘a world-leading trusted domain for data protection’, but also cautions the next government against ‘setting dangerous precedents that could undermine the role of the web as a force for important democratic principles of openness and free speech’.
The report also predicts significant growth in a number of specific tech sectors including IoT (which it expects to reach $7.3tn of value by 2017), Wearable technology ($70bn by 2024), Big data and data analytics ($32.4bn by 2017), Robotics ($29bn by 2018) and 5G and collateral wireless tech (a 40-fold increase within four years).