The UK currently enjoys a digital economy that is the envy of many countries. Digitally intensive businesses account for 16% of UK output, 24% of exports and over three million jobs. Digital is also creating jobs nearly three times faster than the rest of the economy, pay 44% more than the national average and are more than twice as productive as non-digital jobs. As we review the year to date, the UK is in a clear position of strength on which we must build. However, to build on our heritage and remain a global force in technology, we must focus on our key priorities.
We must get the right Brexit deal. There are implications for skills and talent; access to finance; international data flows; and challenges in leaving the single market and customs union. A comprehensive deal is unlikely within the two-year negotiation period and the UK needs a meaningful transition period that allows time for the new immigration, customs, regulatory and investment arrangements to be put in place.
Domestically, the industrial and digital strategies can support a future powered by technology and innovation. The Government must recognise the importance of digital adoption in unleashing the UK’s economic potential. Boosting investment in research and development (R&D) and making the UK attractive, to start and scale a high-growth business will be paramount to the UK remaining a global tech hub.
Building a smarter state through digital transformation will protect our public services amid rising public sector debt and demands on usage. Investment will unlock the next wave of digital government; improve expertise within the Civil Service; address barriers to innovation in health and social care; and drive innovation in the defence supply base.
People need the skills to thrive in a digital future. Domestically, younger generations must be equipped with world-class digital skills; untapped sources, such as the female population, should be encouraged to choose technology; and a clear policy on the future of work and lifelong learning should be created. The UK must also remain open to international talent as increased restrictions on migration could hamper the UK’s growth.
People, and businesses, in the UK must be protected online. The UK needs to build on its strong cyber security credentials by investing in public sector cyber security; protecting end-to-end encryption; enabling small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) investment in cyber security and ensuring citizens have the tools they need to stay safe online.
In addressing the priorities outlined above, we have the collective opportunity to harness the power of digital transformation and deliver an economy that works for everyone.