Individual government department plans have been published; outlining the focus for the New Year is spread across innovation, skills and digital.
The plans across each department focus on areas including Brexit and innovation, as the majority of departments admit there is a large need for more digital skills and services over the next few years to achieve the economic status the UK wants.
Putting digital skills as a key focus for individual department’s ties in with the focus The Chancellor Philip Hammond has to develop skills through the Autumn Budget, allocating a total of £30m to improve digital skills across workforces.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport lead the implementation of the UK’s Digital Strategy, involving boosting digital skills and inclusion. Through its individual plans, the department has said: “We will develop the full range of digital skills that individuals and companies need,” this including up-skilling and reskilling employees.
It is a somewhat achievable goal for the department after Hammond pledged to reskill those in the working environment already, as well as those that are still in education with a distance skills course included in his £30m budget.
Another key area of focus for each department has been Brexit and the distribution of digital systems across the border, in order to take on the changes successfully.
The Home Office aims to develop options for Ministers regarding future immigration arrangements to allow the UK Government to control immigration to coincide with the national interest. To do so, new border arrangements will be enforced including e-Gates and e-Visas.
A new introduction of IT systems is planned, in order to secure the UK’s borders with its Digital Services at the Border, replacing the unsuccessful e-Borders programme. In a statement, the Home Office said it will “Continue to invest in systems that give us data in advance about people intending to come to this country, so they can be checked against our records.”
Furthermore, another focus for the Home Office as the UK prepares to leave the EU is agreeing on a new partnership with the EU on security, law enforcement and criminal justice. The aim of the partnership will be to fight threats from terrorism and crime.
Regarding innovation each individual department has put its own policy-making regulations in place to boost innovation across the government, to successfully deliver government projects. The Cabinet Office will support this boost and also launch a GovTech Catalyst team to run a £20m fund designed to assist tech firms in delivering innovative solutions to public sector challenges.
Another key initiative highlighted was to deliver superfast broadband to 95% of the UK premises by the end of the year, as per Digital Minister Matt Hancock’s objectives. Despite the objective being outlined the UK still has not reached its target as a report found 1 million Britons are still without a sufficient connection in their homes.
“Broadband coverage is improving, but our findings show there’s still urgent work required before people and businesses get the services they need,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom’s technology chief, in a statement.