Spring Budget 2017: a technology perspective

Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered the Spring budget yesterday, following up on the proposals set out in the Autumn Statement last year.

Here are the top headlines for the IT and telecommunications industries:

New strategy to make UK a world leader in 5G technology

To trial new 5G technology, the Government will invest up to £16 million in a cutting edge 5G facility. The facility will bring together leading 5G research institutions in a national 5G Innovation Network, which will be overseen by a new centre of 5G expertise within government. The Government will continue to work with Ofcom to ensure the UK has a regulatory environment fit for 5G.

It seems technology professionals are already well prepared for the 5G revolution. In our recent survey of more than 1,600 tech professionals, a quarter picked out 5G technologies as the biggest potential disruptor to the industry over the next five years. When asked about how prepared they thought their organisation was for the future, two thirds believe the company they work at is proactive in implementing changes and already embraces new technology. It appears the industry and the Government both share the same drive for innovation.

With the rapid adoption of 5G technology, employers within the industry will seek professionals who can sell, manage and implement this technology. Businesses will look to recruit a range of skilled professionals including RF Planning and Optimisation, Transmission, Project Management, IT Cloud, Software Testers, Developers, Solutions Architects and OSS/BSS Engineers.

£200 million for full fibre broadband

The Budget statement announced multiple strands of the £200 million full-fibre broadband programme. To increase take up of services offered by new networks, the funding will allow the Government to offer full-fibre broadband connection vouchers to businesses. Another main approach behind the programme is to directly connect public sector buildings like schools and hospitals.

With more investment in the UK’s network infrastructure jobs are likely to be created across a range of disciplines including Pre-Sales, Solution Architects, Field Engineers, Civil Works, Testing Engineers, and Project Management.

New Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to develop disruptive technology

In our recent Voice of the Workforce research, which drew on the views of more than 1,600 technology professionals, more than a third of respondents said they see automation technologies replacing traditional human processes as the biggest disruptor to the industry in the next five years. Based on the Budget announcement, it seems this is where the Government is looking to invest.

The first challenges to go ahead as part of the ISCF are to develop artificial intelligence and robotics systems and to develop new medicine manufacturing technologies. The challenge set for the A.I. and robotics technologies is to create systems that can operate in extreme and hazardous environments. Such systems could have practical applications within offshore and nuclear energy as well as space exploration and deep mining. The challenge for medicine manufacturing is to accelerate the production process, enabling patients to access new drugs and treatments quicker.

£300 million for new academic research placements

To help maintain the UK’s position as a world-leader in science and research, the Government is setting aside funding to help build a pipeline of talented researchers and drive innovation in these fields.

Out of the £300 million, over two thirds will create new fellowships, including programmes to attract top global talent and £90 million will provide 1,000 PhD placements – 85% of which will be in STEM disciplines.

£500 million to reform technical education for 16-19 year olds

New ‘T-levels’ will be introduced as an education route for 16-19 year olds from autumn 2019. Currently, students have an astounding choice of 13,000 technical courses to choose from. These will be whittled down to 15 T-level training routes which are specific to different industries, including one aimed at digital careers.

At a time when 57% of tech professionals believe there is a skills shortage within their sector (Networkers 2017 Voice of the Workforce report), encouraging young people into digital careers is one way to help address the skills gap. In fact, a quarter of respondents in our research said that the promotion of technology as a career to younger generations was the most important factor in tackling the skills shortage.

Up to £40 million on retraining and upskilling

As well as budgeting funds for the technical training of young people yet to enter the world of work, the Government also promised to spend up to £40 million by 2018-19 on helping the existing workforce retrain and upskill.

Our Voice of the Workforce research showed that well over half of technology professionals would consider transferring into a new skill set. The desire to learn a new skill is the most influential factor when deciding whether to transfer compared to the appeal of a higher salary or faster career progression.

To see our latest IT and telecommunications jobs, click here.

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