What the 2017 Autumn Budget means for UK tech professionals

Yesterday’s Budget was the first to be held in Autumn and the first since the snap General Election in June. As always, there was much speculation beforehand about what Chancellor Philip Hammond would deliver in his speech – much of which followed on from the Spring Budget in March – on topics like 5G, full-fibre broadband and investment in digital skills. Fortunately, the Chancellor confirmed the government’s commitment to invest in all of these areas and more.

If you didn’t get a chance to listen to the speech or delve into the 86 page red book, read on for a summary of what the Budget means for IT and telecoms professionals in the UK.

Next-generation 5G

The theme of the Autumn Budget was making Britain “fit for the future” in all senses; from embracing Brexit and speeding up the deal to investing in the skills and infrastructure (physical and digital) our economy needs. And Mr Hammond made it clear that the country’s future position depends on our willingness and desire to embrace the technological revolution, which he said Britain is at the forefront of.

Confirming this desire, the Government is committing £385 million for projects which will develop next generation 5G mobile and full-fibre broadband networks. £160 million will go towards new 5G infrastructure including £10 million to create testing facilities and £5 million for an initial trial starting in 2018 to test 5G applications and deployment on roads.

Mark Payne, Head of Network Infrastructure at Networkers, explains the effect this could have on the jobs market:

“Yesterday’s announcement from the Chancellor is welcome news for technology companies looking to roll-out full fibre broadband (FTTP/H) and harness 5G as the spring board for their innovations that will rely on 5G network infrastructure.”

“This investment will be likely to accelerate the need for digital skills including 5G specialists. We are already seeing a demand for R&D engineers as well as skilled fibre engineers including network engineers, architects, planners, service delivery managers, project managers and programme managers.”


Funds for full-fibre broadband

By way of encouraging a faster rollout of full-fibre networks, the Government is launching a new £190 million Challenge Fund that local areas can bid for. Some of the first people to benefit will be children in 100 schools around the country.


Investment in innovation & AI

As part of the Chancellor’s vision for a Global Britain, he wants the country to be a “hub of enterprise and innovation” and to establish the UK as a world leader in a number of new technologies including artificial intelligence. Amongst other things, this involves boosting our knowledge of emerging technologies and encouraging collaboration across Government and industry.

To take forward the key recommendations of an independent review on AI, the Government will invest more than £75 million. A new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation will be established to ensure “safe, ethical and ground-breaking” innovation in AI and data-driven technologies and will be the world’s first advisory body of its kind.

£10 million will also see a new Regulators’ Pioneer Fund being set up to unlock the potential of emerging technologies and help regulators develop innovative approaches to get new products and services to market.

Money will also be set aside to fund 450 PhD researchers. Chris Rosebert, Head of Data Science & A.I. comments:

“The planned investment in AI fellowships shows great promise from the Government to future proof the UK economy with the technology skills it needs to remain innovative and competitive. There is strong competition in Europe for people with AI skills, so the investment will help the UK establish a pipeline of talent for the future and help retain the skilled AI professionals that are already emerging in this country.”

To maximise the growth of the digital economy, a new Geospatial Data Commission will be established by May 2018 to provide strategic oversight of the geospatial data held by public bodies in the UK.

With a total of £500 million pledged towards tech, the Autumn Budget was generally positive news for the tech industry and those working within it.

If you’re ready to embrace the future and seek your next job, visit our jobs pages for our IT and Telecommunications vacancies.

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