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Budget focus on skills welcomed but not enough

The last Spring Budget included some measures to try to improve IT skills but the industry feels much more could be done

The last Spring Budget included some discussion of the skills crisis and government attempts to get more people with IT knowledge out into the workplace.

The Chancellor Philip Hammond set out plans to allocate £300m to support "the brightest and the best research talent" in science and technology and to do more to support apprentices.

"Too many of our young people are leaving formal education without the skills they need for today’s labour market," he added, "Our task today is to take the next steps in preparing Britain for a global future. To equip our young people with the skills they need."

But the initial response from the channel was one of disappointment in the measures, feeling that the government could have gone further.

“At the heart of this is tackling the digital skills gap challenge, and we cannot expect the government to go it alone. Businesses and academics must work together to identify training needs. They need to create internship and job opportunities for people to advance their careers. Investment in training and regional devolution will help achieve this goal but more needs to be done," said Martin Moran, managing director international,

Others welcomed the attempts to support more technology activity, although there were warnings that trhe measures taken today would not be enough.

“The Government’s commitment to the digital economy was also evident in last week’s Digital Strategy launch.  However, while the UK is undoubtedly a global leader, we must not allow complacency; there must be genuine collaboration between Government and industry in order to foster technological innovation and grow our digital economy," said Simon Hansford, CEO of UKCloud.

One of the other decisions announced in the Budget was to bring the self-employed in line with corporates in their national Insurance contributions. The tax rise could have implications for consultants and engineers.

"The decisions to raise National Insurance and to cut the dividend allowance will be potentially devastating for freelancers and contractors across the UK," said Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent.

“We are worried that the government increasingly sees the self-employed as an easy target. It is very unfair to position freelancers and contractors as not being on a level playing field with those who are employed. These business owners have none of the employment rights or the security that employed workers do and there must be some recognition for that - unless they want to cripple this very important and growing part of the UK economy," he added.

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