In response to John Moulton of Alchemy Partners, who said drastic action is required to prevent the UK IT industry slipping further behind its competitors.
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The truth is, he has a point. That is why we have already closed 20 schemes and more than 60 more will close in the next year. The products that replace them will be broader and more flexible, with a greater emphasis on the needs of business and on driving up productivity and prosperity. In particular, support will focus on enterprise and best practice; innovation; investment in skills; and areas where there is clear evidence of market imperfection.
This will apply across the board - whether it is in the IT sector, car manufacturing or, as Moulton highlights, horticulture and footwear. And so we are, just as Moulton suggests, doing "fewer, bigger and more consistent things".
The UK Online for Business programme has assisted more than 275,000 businesses in the past 12 months alone. A recent report by the Economist Intelligence Unit described UK Online for Business as one of the world's strongest and most innovative government e-business projects.
The Department for Trade & Industry's website has recently been upgraded to allow users to navigate much more easily. In fact, Moulton's timing is impeccable. The drop-down menu to "select an industry" was expanded yesterday and now includes electronics, information security, software computer services, computer games, digital content, e-communications, and telecoms.
Stephen Timms, E-commerce minister
I haven't heard a positive statement from a UK company in the past six months. We are waiting for the Yanks to tell us it is going to be alright.
So we will all continue to work harder than everyone on the continent, for a lower quality of life, with less rewards than those in US, Japanese and European companies.
Robert Sweetman, Cherry Electrical Products
The service industrial period is over for us in the UK and everybody has got to realise this now. It is not just within IT, it concerns most service industries (IT, financial, etc), where other countries have caught up with us and can now give as good a service far more cheaply.
We should prepare for long-term benefits from research and development rather than just going for quick profits with a "next day" approach.
Government must get industry to take IT more seriously, and combat management's feeling that IT is "a pain to have".
IT departments must be more selective about who and how they recruit.
Again this country seems to fail due to a lack of grass-roots support. As I see it, we have two choices:
- Realise that we need to invest more, not just fiscally but through every and any possible stem of the IT tree, be that time, money or planning
- We continue to be a mediocre provider of 90% of our technological input.
Our leaders and administrators need to have the nerve to do exciting long-term things such as:
- Regain control of government IT infrastructure from the powerful US multinationals that run and basically own much of UK government IT
- Reduce the constant haemorrhaging of our service sector to the Far East
- Teach real IT in schools, instead of duping kids into thinking they are learning IT when they are just learning to do spreadsheets and word processing
- Not just consider IT as a function that can be segmented and outsourced.
I live in hope.