The government's tapping up Lloyds, Barclays and Google for digital skills

 
Lynsey Barber
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Teaching people digital skills will drive the economy, the government say (Source: Getty)

The government is turning to private business, including Lloyds, Barclays and Google, to help the UK become skilled for the modern age with ambitious new plans.

It has announced partnerships with the well known institutions to offer training in digital across the UK, to push forward the country's march towards a digital economy, putting these skills on a par with literacy and numeracy.

As part of a comprehensive new digital strategy, launched today, four million opportunities for learning will be created to ensure "no one is left behind" by a digital divide.

Read more: The three biggest post-Brexit risks to the UK digital economy

Lloyds has pledged to train 2.5m people, charities and small businesses by 2020, while Barclays will help 45,000 kids to learn to code and one million people understand digital and cyber security, all for free.

Google has added to its previous commitment to offer everyone in the UK free digital skills training, with a specific pledge to help those in seaside towns, focused on tourism.

BT, HP and Accenture will also be involved, along with charities and other voluntary organisations.

It will also create new tech centres in emerging markets to build ties abroad. A UK-Israel tech hub has already spurred 80 partnerships valued at £62m.

Meanwhile, the UK's world leading multibillion pound fintech sector will help the government deliver financial services to those who currently have little access and that can help people better manage their money.

And a new forum will launch led by a top minister to help the government and the tech industry driver the digital economy further forwards.

“The UK’s world-leading digital sectors are a major driver of growth and productivity, and we are determined to protect and strengthen them," said secretary of state for culture Karen Bradley.

“This digital strategy sets a path to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research as part of the government’s plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation."

She added: "To do that, we will work closely with businesses and others to make sure the benefits and opportunities are spread across the country so nobody is left behind.

The digital strategy, to be announced this morning, comes after a years delay, but follows on from several fresh commitments to embrace technology. They include Theresa May's industrial strategy and the Cabinet Offices recent digital transformation strategy which aims to shake up Whitehall and the way public services are delivered, as well as promises of more technology funding which came in the Autumn Statement.

Read more: Why artificial intelligence is about to get real backing

“We believe that digital can have a transformative impact, no matter where you live and what your job is," said Google UK and Ireland managing director Ronan Harris.

"Everyone deserves access to the tools and opportunities the web has to offer and that is why we welcome the Government's timely digital strategy which ensures the benefits of the digital economy are spread across the country."

The strategy will also confirm fresh funding for the UK's high-level artificial intelligence sector worth millions.

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