Published on in Public SectorDigital Transformation

With the General Election tomorrow, it has been fascinating to see what role the next government could play in delivering a digital future for Britain.

At our recent Executive Discussion Evening, one of the points which really resonated was the importance of digital in the political landscape. Furthermore, our Digital Inside Out report has shown one in five people would choose to vote for a party which prioritised digital.

With more than half (54%) of respondents confirming the government could be doing more to prepare the UK for a digital tomorrow, it goes to show just how seriously the nation is taking digital. It’s an issue that has yet to receive much public attention in this campaign, but could it be a real vote winner?

As it stands, there are 11 million people in the UK who lack basic digital skills, and our report shows 40% believe the country needs to be moving more rapidly to prepare the UK for a digital future. The target from the current government is to reduce this by a quarter next year.

More than £1bn has been invested in digital infrastructure to improve internet access across the UK. However, more than just access to the internet is required to ensure the web is truly for everyone. The country needs to develop the skills, motivation, and trust to go online and be digitally capable.

Our report revealed that 13% of people think the government itself should provide technology skills training, with 22% believing digital education should be a bigger focus of the modern school curriculum.

On top of this, we found more than two thirds (67%) of UK citizens ‘always’ or ‘sometimes’ use the digital option when it’s made available to them by a local government organisation. They also told us Local Government is the sector where consumers would most like to see an improvement in digital services.

So what do political parties need to do to address the digital concerns of the public?

Conservative Ed Vaizey, Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy, has placed a huge emphasis on skills and education. Are children being taught the right skills at school when it comes to coding?  Do they know enough about digital technology to ensure they can choose the most valuable courses in further or higher education for prospective employers?  Encouraging employers to take on apprentices is part of the big picture for the Conservatives; so could education be the solution to a future digital Britain?

Chi Onwurah, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office Minister says a new approach is needed. Rather than solely focusing on people using the digital public services being developed, Chi argues everyone needs to be online first.  Do you agree with this approach?

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats have proposed a ‘Digital Bill of Rights’ which Nick Clegg believes is the solution to the ‘snail’s pace’ at which previous governments have been moving in response to the impact new technology has on our lives. This new bill would protect personal data online with prison sentences for companies that steal and sell personal data illegally. Could this step be the answer to the digital concerns of the public?

Our report shows that 42% of people lack awareness of the digital options available to them with 50% saying they haven’t received adequate digital training. This would point to a United Kingdom that is struggling with the tools it already has. Should this be the main focal point?

How important is digital to you? Will it influence the way you vote in the upcoming elections? Tweet me your thoughts @StevenAJC.

Photo credit: William Warby

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Steven Cox

Vice President, Fujitsu Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador at Fujitsu

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