Yesterday, Prime Minister Gordon Brown outlined a series of initiatives for Britain’s digital future.
These initiatives can be summarised as:
- The creation of a web portal called MyGov, that will allow individuals to personalise their experience to public services.
- £30m worth of funding to create an “Institute of Web Science”, which will focus on the economic and social benefits of the web.
- The publication of an online inventory of all non-personal datasets held by departments, creating a modern day "Domesday book".
- All public service contracts over £20,000 will be made available on a free online portal by the end of 2010. Thus allowing any suitable business to bid for them.
- Roll out broadband access to all, with digital champion Martha Lane Fox broadening her role to set up a Digital Public Services Unit in the Cabinet Office
- Quoting Brown
I want Britain to be the world leader in the digital economy which will create over a quarter of a million skilled jobs by 2020; the world leader in public service delivery where we can give the greatest possible voice and choice to citizens, parents patients and consumers; and the world leader in the new politics where that voice for feedback and deliberative decisions can transform the way we make local and national policies and decisions.
Underpinning the digital transformation that we are likely to see over the coming decade is the creation of the next generation of the web – what is called the semantic web, or the web of linked data”.
Now, whilst I applaud the Government’s efforts in each of the areas above. I do have serious concerns about our IT future in 2020. For Britain to be a true world leader in the digital economy, the Government must invest in universities for tomorrow’s IT graduates. Funding cut backs are already causing big problems and the disruption is only going to get worse.
Yesterday morning, I was alarmed to read Dr Black’s tweet on the lack of support for Computer Science courses. The link she provides leads to a report on the decline in computing graduates. (Read the full report below).
The report states:
The UK is currently sitting on a ticking time-bomb – all of the evidence shows a significant and increasing gap between supply and demand for IT professionals in the critical IT sector of the UK economy which, if left unchecked, will severely damage the competitiveness of UK industry in the global marketplace, and will hit smaller employers and the public sector particularly hard”.
The recession has caused many jobs within the IT sector to evaporate. This, coupled with the proposed closure of many computer science departments, is only going to make a bleak IT future for Britain. We need the best and brightest computer scientists to help deliver the wealth of opportunities that will appear on tomorrow’s digital landscape. Without a dedicated and passionate IT workforce, we risk a “brain drain”.
I completed my Information Systems degree in 1998. My course was more than than “a short journey into IT”. It has proved to be a true life skill. I’ve been lucky to work with a number of global businesses, in a continued cycle of learning and delivering value. My IS degree gave me the passion for that. Working alongside talented IT colleagues gave me inspiration to work harder, and to provide simplified business solutions.
Making sense of technology, and sharing that with the world is a wonderful and enriching feeling. IT graduates push the technology envelope further each day. Not only in the worlds of coding and architecture. But many, in the worlds of business, engineering and even geek marketing (Just like me!). IT graduates don’t think in black and white, they dream in colour.
Dear Gordon Brown,
Please don’t forget that Britain needs thousands of IT graduates for 2010. To provide them in sufficient numbers, computer science departments need adequate funding. Don’t allow them to close. Overseas expertise will eventually costs us dearly.
Here’s a worrying paper, with a specific list of recommendations for you to consider.