(credit image/Infosys)Nadine Dorries, the UK minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spoke at Infosys Europe Leadership Forum in London. The minister’s key ambition is to close the digital divide – between those with access and knowledge of technology. And those that don’t have access. Dorries told industry leaders that everyone must work together to upskill the UK workforce. Furthermore, work to attract people from all backgrounds into digital roles.

The minister has only been in post for just over a month. However, she was determined for people across the UK, to have the skills needed to succeed in the modern world. “I am resolute to ensure people in every part of the country benefit from the digital revolution. No matter where they come from, or whatever their background,” says Dorries.

The minister noted that in the past, “It used to be about three hours reading, writing and arithmetic. Those were the essential tools needed to get on with life. If an individual could not read or write or understand basic science, then you were likely to be left behind. In today’s increasingly online world, digital skills are just as vital for a person’s education or career. Moreover, for an individual’s overall life’s prospects.

Everything is now digital

Everything we do now has a digital aspect. We work online, we shop online, we socialise online and meet with loved ones online.” The minister acknowledged that the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this trend. More than 80% of all jobs advertised now require digital skills of some kind or another. This may include being able to use Zoom, or Excel, or to have basic word processing skills.

Dorries says the government is undertaking a skills revolution in the UK. It was one of the themes of the recent Queen’s speech in Parliament. It includes a guarantee for every adult to have access to free courses at digital boot camps throughout their lifetime.

Digital equality

My mission at the Department is to open the doors of all of our industries to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. I don’t want the same old faces at the top of the art or sports. Levelling up is about people.

!It’s about making sure that every single child, and adult, whether they are from Hampstead or Hartlepool have the same opportunity to succeed. Furthermore, that they are not held back because they can’t afford to use laptops. Nor because their school does not have the state-of-the-art facilities that other schools may have. This is about digital equality.”

The pace of technology innovation is so fast, that the government is constantly playing ‘catch-up.’ As a result, the government must work closely with the technology sector, to resolve a number of societal challenges.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business

The recently appointed Minister Digital, Culture, Media and Sport made an interesting speech at Infosys Europe Leadership Forum. A few bold claims were made about government investment in digital technology. This included the deliverance of laptops to disadvantaged children and the rollout of high-speed internet connections across the UK. The accuracy of these figures has already been challenged by some industry analysts. Minister Dorries has only been in her post for just over a month.

However, the minister is correct in suggesting that the government could not tackle the skills gap alone. The government must work together with companies in the forefront of the digital world. Companies such as Infosys that has cutting edge solutions to today’s problems such as the digital divide. The proof in the pudding will be future government spending reviews. Will the government give to the digital sector with one hand (via the DCMS)? Only to take back with the other hand (The Treasury). Hopefully, the various Parliamentary Select Committees will hold Minister Dorries to account, on her fine words at the Infosys Europe Leadership Forum this week.


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