As expected, yesterday’s Budget set aside huge swathes of cash for technology industries. It included more money for artificial intelligence and the development of 5G networks. There will also be funding to put driverless cars on UK roads by 2021. And the chancellor also pledged to boost digital skills, including tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000, as he hopes the UK can keep building on its strong tech foundations to claw back any money that will be lost to Brexit.
And – on the whole – the Channel has reacted warmly to Phillip Hammond’s Budget announcements.
Leon Deakin, Partner in the technology team at Coffin Mew said:“As a firm with a growing technology sector and client base in this area we are obviously delighted to see specific investment in the technology sector, particularly in AI and driverless vehicles.
“Doom mongers have long been predicting that the UK and its tech hubs will be hit hard by Brexit and there have been numerous reports of rival cities within the EU which have sought to position themselves as alternative options. However, we are yet to see this materialise and incentives and commitments such as those announced by the Chancellor in these innovative but essential areas have to be great news for the economy, the sector and those who advise businesses in it.
He added: “Of course, creating the next unicorn is no easy task but a serious level of investment of the magnitude announced should at least ensure those businesses with promise have the best chance to scale up even if they don’t reach the $1billion level. Likewise, there is little point developing these new technologies if the infrastructure and support is then not there to utilise them properly.”
Slightly less convinced by the budge, yet optimistic, Tom Williams, CEO, Certua Protect added: “The true measure of a revolution is how it impacts the everyday lives of people. Technology without implementation or relevance to the problem it seeks to fix, means nothing. I welcome this investment into innovation in the tech start-up industry but strongly believe that we must judge ourselves on the end result of how it improves the lives of those who use it.”
James Milligan, director of Hays Digital Technology, was particularly pleased to hear that the skills gap in the UK is being addressed. He said:“It’s encouraging to hear from today’s Budget announcement that the government is being creative in helping support the skills shortages facing the technology industry – as well as significant investment into the UK’s technology sector overall including support for AI, mobile networks and funding for cyber security.
“The skills gap in particular is a primary issue facing the technology and IT sector, and with more people likely to move jobs, the retention of staff will become a growing issue as demand for specialist digital skills increases. Employers are also under pressure to increase salaries as a result, as data from our latest Hays Salary & Recruiting Trends 2018 guide showed cyber security information security analysts and engineers have enjoyed some of the greatest rises across the UK at 10.5 per cent.”