The event launched PICTFOR’s latest report, Tech for Good, Tech for Growth, which reveals how AI, quantum computing, new legislation, can drive growth and help vulnerable groups.
The discussion featured:
Alex Davies Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Tech and Digital Economy
Paul Scully MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Tech and the Digital Economy
Carol Monaghan MP, SNP Science, Innovation, Technology and Education spokesperson
Carol Monaghan MP gave her opening remarks describing the Tech For Good, Tech for Growth report and thanked contributors including the PICTFOR Chair Dame Chair Caroline Dinkage and the Treasurer Lord McNally, as well as industry members. She described how the report can benefit communities, drive growth, and inform key priorities for the government to create a growth friendly environment. She noted that the challenge for the tech industry is to identify the required skills to drive that growth, while improving access and inclusion.
She noted efforts to use AI to build skills, describing a meeting with constituents who had received their first tablets and were then trained on how to use them. She posed the question to attendees: how diverse is your workforce?
Carol Monaghan MP then introduced Paul Scully MP to provide his insights. Paul Scully emphasized the importance of diverse thinking, and how it encourages better services and more productive workforces. He indicated the tech economy has an opportunity to act as an engine for growth, enabling Britain to become a science and tech superpower, while delivering tangible benefits to the British population. He noted his hope for the tech economy to develop new jobs that make the general population happier and healthier, citing prior UK tech advancements like the steam engine and the world wide web. He emphasised that growing the tech economy is a cross-party endeavour, focused on delivering for the UK economy and UK people.
He praised the Tech For Good, Tech For Growth report for presenting a plan that identifies ways to make the tech ecosystem more merit based, helping startups by expanding existing schemes and grants to promote innovation and growth. He also cited the need to support innovators and entrepreneurs across the UK, emphasising the importance of digital training and skill development, upskilling, and apprenticeships, to bridge the digital divide. He also cited existing programs that facilitate ‘skills bootcamps’ to help people of all backgrounds develop skills in data analysis and digital marketing.
Paul Scully explained that even with increasing investment into the AI and Tech industries, the UK is still third in the world in the global AI index, referencing the need for business, academia, and government to develop innovative ways to boost UK productivity and gain a competitive edge.
Lastly, he noted that a key aspect of good growth is regulation, explaining the need for it alongside investment, warning that the same technologies that can help us tackle drugs and climate change can also drive disinformation and threaten democracy. He closed his remarks advocating for both ambitious investment and regulation in the tech and AI industries.
Carol Monaghan thanked Paul Scully for his insights and introduced Alex Davies Jones.
Alex Davies Jones noted a growing interest in tech among the public, the media, and parliament, citing recent landmark legislation passed in parliament over the past year including the Online Safety Bill and Data Bill. She welcomed the Tech For Good, Tech For Growth report’s focus on plugging the digital skills gap.
She noted that the digital sector presents a huge opportunity but also presents its challenges, digital skills and inclusivity issues among them, and referenced issues facing her home country of Wales, notably, jobs disappearing in recent years with nothing to replace them. She emphasised the need for the tech industry to give “levelling up” real meaning, and make it work across the UK.
She noted persistent issues facing the UK, including limited access to reliable broadband or devices, the curriculum and skills gap, misinformation, and the limited ability of government regulators to deal with tech advancements like Fintech. Lastly, she proposed solutions, such as transforming the apprenticeship program to make it fit for purpose .
The event chair closed the event by thanking the attendees, the event host Carol Monaghan MP and the Information Commissioner and announced the next PICTFOR event.
Read the full report here.