Chancellor urged to back cryptocurrency, digital skills and retailers in Budget 2018

Chancellor is asked to make further commitments to tackle the UK’s digital skills shortage, by providing more support for STEM subjects, according to new calls from industry leaders across the UK

by News Reporter on 26 October 2018 12:50


The Autumn budget must include proposals to tackle the UK’s digital skills shortfall, according to demands from industry leaders. The Chancellor is set to deliver his annual announcement of spending commitments on Monday afternoon, in what is expected to be a make or break performance to save Theresa May’s government from oblivion.

A key area for investment should be in encouraging young people to study STEM courses, according to industry figures.

Sheila Flavell, Chair of IoC Industry Advisory Board and COO of FDM Group said, “The Chancellor has a track record of delivering ambitious tech initiatives in his financial statements, and businesses will be hoping that this budget is no different. We are hoping for further detail on the government’s strategy to drive engagement with STEM courses, as well as fresh proposals to improve digital capabilities of the existing workforce.

Flavell continued, “Whether the subject is data science or cybersecurity, these skills are critical for driving companies forward. Collaboration between Universities and businesses is key if we are to develop courses that reflect the growing needs of employers. This approach will help widen access to high quality education to a more diverse range of people, something which is good for industry and the wider economy.”

Meanwhile, the Chancellor’s proposed ‘lifeline’ for struggling high street retailers was met with mixed reaction from industry bosses. Nick Felton from MHR Analytics said, “The £300 million lifeline for retailers proposed by the Chancellor is great news for struggling high street brands, which are becoming increasingly worse off due to soaring business rates, tough competition online and massive technological advances. However, whilst this pledge will provide some relief, it is simply not enough to solve the prominent crisis that high street retailers are facing across the UK. Unless action is taken to address the latest and the predicted buying trends, and improve personalisation and customer experience, more stores will close and jobs will continue to be lost.

He continuned, "A key reason for the current crisis is that many retailers have failed to properly prepare for the impact of digital disruption and changing shopping habits, leading to a loss of customer loyalty and sales. Instead of anticipating these trends and adapting, many major retailers tried to weather the storm, leading to catastrophic consequences, including historic brands falling into administration. Retailers need to recognise that data insights and analytics are vital to delivering sound financial planning – tools that can predict profit and revenue issues before they hit. In addition, data is what customer personalisation is built on. Data analytics tools can help reduce cost, cut waste and enable more flexible management and smarter decision making. It’s time to take action on the masses of consumer data available, and use this information to create new business models that will thrive in a competitive market."

Addiitonally Alex El-Nemer, Director At Nexus said, “This budget provides an opportunity for the government to set out a clear agenda for absorbing the economic impact of Brexit and elaborating on the Chancellor’s suggestion that blockchain could provide a digital solution to the Irish border issue. Whilst the topic has been hotly debated, we still need to hear more about the government’s proposed approach, along with detail on how this compelling proposal might work in practice.”

He continued, “Right now many businesses are looking for ways to cut costs, and the government should provide the necessary support and guidance on how these alternate currencies could enable this to happen.”

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