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Work of the Ad Hoc Committees in 2014–15: House of Lords Digital Skills Committee

Published Monday, March 13, 2017

This Lords Library briefing provides information about the work of the House of Lords Digital Skills Committee; its conclusions and recommendations; the government’s response; and a summary of the debate held in the House of Lords.

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On 12 June 2014, House of Lords Digital Skills Committee was appointed with the remit of considering “information and communications technology, competitiveness and skills in the United Kingdom”. Following its inquiry, the Committee published a report, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, on 17 February 2015.

Make or Break Point

Reviewing the evidence on the UK’s digital economy, the Committee concluded that there was a risk that the UK might be left behind in the global skills market if it did not provide the right conditions to enable digital businesses to flourish in the UK. It argued that the UK was at a “make or break” point in time, when it needed to ensure that it could continue to compete with other countries around the world. Key to this was the UK having the right skills and infrastructure to keep pace with the requirements of changing digital technology.

Principal Recommendation: New Digital Agenda

The Committee’s principal recommendation was that the Government should produce a new digital agenda. The Committee described the purpose of such an agenda as to enable the Government to better coordinate both its own initiatives and initiatives outside of government. The Committee recommended that there should be a cabinet minister with responsibility for implementing this agenda, located in the Cabinet Office, who would report annually to Parliament on progress made. The Committee also recommended that Parliament should establish the best means of maintaining oversight of the progress of the digital agenda.

The Committee’s report included its own illustrative digital agenda, submitted for the Government’s consideration. This included the following objectives:

  • That people in the UK should be able access to digital technologies.
  • That the population as a whole should have the appropriate levels of digital skills.
  • That digital teaching in schools, universities and further education should meet the requirements of the modern industry.

Government’s Digital Strategy

The Government published its own Digital Strategy on 1 March 2017. This included a commitment to complete the roll-out of 4G mobile coverage and superfast broadband by 2020 and implement a Universal Service Obligation. The Government also said that it would ensure that adults in England who lacked digital skills would be able to access basic digital skills training for free.

Lords Library notes LLN-2017-0014

Author: Edward Scott

Topics: Economic policy, Further education, Industry, Information technology, Internet and cybercrime, Schools, Training

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