Budget 2017: Hammond urged to support digital skills, cyber security and technical training

Business leaders in the technology industry have given a warm reception to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s proposals to introduce new T-Level technical qualifications to support technical training of young people

by the commentator on 6 March 2017 09:25


The Chancellor Philip Hammond has received praise for proposals to introduce new technical qualifications to support British businesses ahead of Wednesday’s budget. Early briefings in the Sunday papers have revealed a raft of policy announcements including a £500 million cash boost to support the UK’s Brexit strategy along with commitments to improve skills training through additional education qualifications dubbed ‘T-Levels’.

Industry leaders welcomed the new announcement, citing the urgency of tackling the UK’s current skills shortage.

Siobhan Hafferty, head of public sector, CenturyLink said, “These proposals are essential for tackling the UK’s skills crisis and will give a new generation access to technical, tailored courses in critical industries.

However, it’s also important that the private sector supports this initiative through mentoring, training and relevant collaboration to ensure young people are given direct industry experience.

With the government’s digital strategy transforming public services, it’s vital that we build a digitally proficient workforce with the correct skills to manage these services, securely."

At CenturyLink we are proud to have developed specific graduate and intern programmes to help new joiners learn digital skills and adapt quickly to the world of work.”

The new qualification and education policy was also welcomed by Chas Moloney, director at technology giant Ricoh UK who said, “Offering your people the opportunity to pursue tailored, technical qualifications is a step in the right direction for tackling the current skills shortage.

However, it’s also vital that businesses play an active role in providing work placements and mentoring schemes to ensure the next generation is properly equipped with the digital skills that employers desperately need.

With automation and other tech trends reshaping traditional job roles, the public and private sector must work together to build a workforce that can thrive in the highly competitive digital economy.”

Hammond’s approach was welcomed by leading influencers in the cyber security industry who urged the government to improve cyber skills training.

Peter Carlisle, VP EMEA at Thales e-Security said, “With UK businesses being bombarded with increasingly sophisticated cyber assaults, it’s encouraging to see the creation of custom-made, technical qualifications to increase the nation’s digital skillset.

Understanding the importance of securely managing data is now the responsibility of every employee at all levels of the organisation and the sooner we start equipping the next generation with specialist skills the better.

That’s why it’s vital that the security industry plays its part in supporting organisations like the National Cyber Security Centre to spread best practice and enable companies to fight off malicious hackers who may wish to put national security at risk.”

Business leaders also welcome the move with Paul Cant, Vice President EMEA, BMC Software saying, “With digital transformation top of agenda for many UK companies, it’s encouraging to see the government making a commitment to supporting new technical qualifications.

The vast majority of businesses are urgently seeking to improve digital capabilities yet the skills crisis means there is a huge discrepancy between supply and demand. This problem cannot be solved overnight and requires a combined effort from industry and government to equip young people with the skills they need.

By providing the next generation with a tailored career path in critical industries like engineering, IT and manufacturing, businesses will have access to a much deeper pool of technical talent which is critical for long term economic growth.”

Wednesday’s budget is set to be a major test of Prime Minister Theresa May’s premiership where she will be tasked with reducing the deficit whilst improving public services. 

Michael Mercieca, Chief Executive, Young Enterprise added, “For too long rigid education structures have meant that many young people have been poorly equipped to pursue their passion for a career in technical industries.  

These long overdue proposals will finally enable the next generation to fully benefit from rigorous, tailored technical courses and help rebalance the UK’s skills pipeline.

It’s also time to recognise that academia alone is not enough to produce the diverse, highly skilled workforce of the future. We need to foster a culture of entrepreneurialism in schools, invest in employability skills and give young people the tools and confidence they need to reach their full potential.”

Paul Farrington, Manager, EMEA Solution Architect at Veracode said, “Introducing dedicated technical qualifications is an important step to help drive up digital skills, particularly given the grievous threat posed by increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks on UK businesses. 

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