UK Government’s Information Economy Strategy Launched

More than any time in history our world is being shaped by innovation, new ideas, new technologies and new companies. This is the story of the global economy. David Cameron

The Information Economy Strategy was issued on Friday 14 June 2013 by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and is part of the Industrial Strategy: government and industry in partnership series.The document can be downloaded from here, where comments can be also be submitted. The idea is, the new strategy will generate fresh growth opportunities for some of the UK’s most innovative technology businesses.

Developed in partnership with industry, the Information Economy Strategy will make it easier for businesses to access public services online, for example, by providing a single digital view of their tax affairs. It will also help 1.6 million small and medium sized businesses grow their online presence and allow them to exploit new technologies.

The strategy will be unveiled by the Prime Minister, who will also announce a £1 million fund to kick start development of an innovative solution to a global problem of our time.

The Information Economy Strategy sets out a range of key actions, including:

  • Digitally transforming 25 of the top 50 public services over the next 300 days, including plans to give businesses a single, online view of their tax records. This will enable them to check that all of their information is in order and do simple tasks online quickly – like setting up PAYE for a new employee, reducing the need to pay for expensive specialists to navigate the tax system.
  • Launching a new programme to help 1.6 million SMEs scale up their business online over the next five years. This industry-led initiative will target SMEs that either are not online, or want to improve their current online facilities so they can do things like process electronic payments, sell goods overseas and developing cloud computing.
  • Publishing a data capability strategy in October 2013, developed in partnership with government, industry and academia. The strategy will build on the recommendations in Stephan Shakespeare’s review of Public Sector Information and the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology’s report on algorithms, and will be published alongside the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
  • Getting ahead in the global race by establishing the world’s first facility for testing state of the art 5G mobile technology, working with industry and the University of Surrey.

e-skills UK welcomed the announcement, which sets out a plan for government and industry to continue to work together to promote the success of the UK information economy sector.

The strategy lays out a vision of a strong, innovative Information Economy supporting UK excellence to the world, and enabling companies of all sizes to use technology confidently. It underlines the need for a highly skilled digital workforce, with expertise ranging from leading-edge technology innovation to the exploitation of technology for business advantage. Underscoring the importance of establishing a pipeline of talent into the sector, the strategy’s Improving Skills strand promotes actions including a redesigned school curriculum; encouraging young people and particularly girls to pursue technology careers; and helping people to upgrade their skills through online learning, conversion courses, degrees and diplomas.

The strategy also lays emphasis on cyber security, pointing out that confidence in the integrity of online services is essential to growth. On a wider level, developing the deep skills to protect our national security and defend our online infrastructure is highlighted as a priority.

Karen Price OBE, CEO of e-skills UK, says, “The sector welcomes the government’s focus on the Information Economy, and the recognition of its importance to growth and prosperity. Employers know that a coherent skills strategy is essential to make the most of the opportunities the UK has in technology, which underpins the whole economy from advanced manufacturing to energy to life sciences. Employers are putting together ambitious plans for an Industrial Partnership for the Information Economy that would deliver on the objectives of the strategy and ensure the UK has the technology skills for accelerated growth right across the economy”.