Tech industry experts hail Chancellor’s £3bn skills pledge as ‘positive step in the right direction’

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce $3bn worth of investment into skills and education in his Autumn Budget, to help give people ‘the skills they need to earn more and get on in life’.

In what the government is calling a “skills revolution”, Mr Sunak will announce the number of skills boot camps in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and nuclear will be quadrupled.

This initiative has already been supported as a ‘step in the right direction’ by a number of industry experts in the tech and training sector, but have also referenced the need for better diversity in STEM, more opportunity in hybrid working

Rod Flavell, CEO of FTSE 250 technology training company FDM Group said: “The Covid pandemic has devastated businesses as well as disrupting the education and careers of millions of people from across the country. The Chancellor’s proposals for skills bootcamps, extra funding for digital training and other lifelong learning initiatives is a positive step in the right direction, but so much more needs to be done. Far too many young people are still avoiding a career in critical subjects like computer science and coding, at a time when businesses are crying out for candidates with proficient technical expertise.

Flavell continued, “Likewise, the tech sector is still lacking in diversity, something which has to change is we are rebuild the economy so it is fit for the challenges ahead. We need to see a concerted effort from government, businesses and organisations in the education sector to encourage more young people into the technology industry. This means investing heavily in training, support and guidance to ensure we can quickly close the skills gap and reboot the UK economy for the long-term.”

Meanwhile technology expert Sridhar Iyengar, Managing Director, Zoho Europe, said, “The Chancellor’s proposals to boost digital skills training through bootcamps, extra funding and other initiatives is a welcome move, particularly with workforces shaken by the Coronavirus crisis and successive lockdowns. As part of the recovery, companies should also take the necessary steps to re-engage their people, particularly with the widespread adoption of hybrid and remote working, which can leave staff feeling isolated and out of the loop in terms of decision-making.

“This means modernising digital capabilities and implementing the necessary collaboration technologies, to bring people together in terms of managing workloads, interacting via video and team updates, ensuring everyone feels included and engaged. Ultimately, workforce unification when so many people are operating away from the office can only happen when the right unification technology is place and appropriate training is provided to ensure no-one is left behind in using the new tools. Forward-thinking businesses will bear this in mind when rebooting for the challenges ahead,” concluded Iyengar.

Matias Madou, CTO and Co-founder, Secure Code Warrior discusses what the government could be looking to address in this next budget, including helping to plug the skills gap and providing developers with the training and support they need to succeed in order to protect UK organisations and individuals from cyberattacks.

He comments: “As the Autumn Budget fast approaches, professionals from all industries are led to consider how the Government will allocate its spending, and the cybersecurity sector is no exception. While few sectors have been unaffected by the pandemic, the rise in cybercrime over the last 18 months and the impact it’s had on both organisations and individuals has been unprecedented.

“Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, the past year has made it abundantly clear that the issue of cybersecurity is now everyone’s problem – whether they like it or not. Attacks on critical infrastructure have caused disruption to everything from food shortages in the supply chain to the inability to access critical healthcare services, demonstrating that the fallout from data breaches is beginning to have life-threatening consequences. Not to mention the fact that, research from The Cabinet Office itself estimated that cyber-crime is costing the UK economy a staggering £27bn per year.

“If we’re to be in with a chance of protecting UK organisations and individuals from cyberattacks, the Government needs to focus on plugging the digital skills gap. Funding needs to be made available at both ends of the spectrum, from schools to those already in the workforce. This would be a vital investment, as businesses across the board are rapidly digitally transforming and secure coding needs to play a key role in this.

“Organisations need to ensure that they are building more secure systems and safeguarding themselves from cyberattacks and subsequent reputational damage. To achieve this, developers need to be given ownership of their vital role in cybersecurity and ongoing access to relevant training. Not to mention, those at the top need to champion new approaches to security and empower CISOs, CTOs and security executives to breathe new life into security programmes and developer-centric learning.”

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