TechUK today posed a fundamental challenge to the next government. The technology industry trade body has issued a detailed manifesto, spelling out what is required to turn politicians’ words about digital excellence into deeds that will keep Britain competitive.
The manifesto, Securing our Digital Future: the techUK manifesto for growth and jobs 2015-2020, applauds politicians and policy-makers who talk about the significance of the global digital revolution.
But techUK spells out the measures the next government should adopt if technology-led innovation is to deliver high quality public services, increase productivity, and secure a million new jobs.
The manifesto calls on government to make a number of new appointments, including dedicated digital ministers in every department, a new chief privacy officer and a new FCO digital trade tsar. The organisation says these senior figures could make the UK a leading voice in Europe on the digital economy. The new appointees should also aim to help double UK tech exports by 2020, bringing "billions of extra value" to the UK economy.
Among measures proposed by techUK are the introduction of “smart migration” policies to allow fast growing UK companies to employ some of the world's best developers, entrepreneurs and technologists. In addition, techUK believes the government needs to strengthen its pipeline for homegrown skills.
The organisation, which represents 850 companies employing 500,000 tech workers, also said it wants to see 10 year innovation budgets established by government that extend beyond parliamentary cycles.
The industry body also wants the UK to be a world-leading domain in data protection, with a commitment to free speech on the web and a clear legal framework for government surveillance.
The next government must ensure that the whole of the UK benefits from these measures, said techUK, ensuring jobs and growth beyond the South East of England and doubling the digital participation of SMEs across all industries.
To support this aim techUK calls for government to commit to properly fund a digital inclusion programme to ensure that everyone has basic online skills by 2020, and that no one is left behind by digital innovation
Julian David, CEO of techUK 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. That's why today techUK is launching its manifesto as a roadmap to 2020. The key message for politicians is that voters and industry alike want the Government to secure our digital future.”
"There's no doubt we are moving in the right direction. There has been a step change in understanding just how significant these changes are and that we are in a global race. The next five years must be about bringing greater scale and pace to the digital transformation of our country. From skills to infrastructure, digital government to digital health, we have to think big and get the job done. Get it right and the action we take over the next five years can secure our digital future for the next thirty."
Representatives from the three main political parties will react to the manifesto at an event on Wednesday evening.
The full manifesto is available here.