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Industry broadly welcomes Budget plans

The Chancellor has pledged millions to support AI, 5G and broadband getting a thumbs up from some in the industry

The response to the Budget appears to be braodly favoutrable given the Chancellor's decision to plough more funds into AI, broadband and 5G.

Philip Hammond's words about increasing the numbers of computer science teachers was alsol welcomed by those trying to tackle the skills shortage.

"It's fantastic that the government is investing £500 million directly into tech for AI, 5G and full-fibre broadband; it's needed. The Chancellor is backing it up with more investment into training a further 8,000 computer science teachers, to nurture home-grown talent and help plug the digital skills shortage in the UK," said Lawrence Jones, CEO of UKFast.

The focus on emerging tech areas was seen as a positive but there were warnings that some of the strengths of the UK IT sector must not be forgotten.

"Commitments to emerging technology such as 5G, AI and data science is to be applauded, but it is important that core technology businesses are not forgotten in the chase for the next shiny toy. In particular, the UK has strengths in ‘old-school’ tech sub-sectors such as software, IT services and semi-conductor technology," said Tudor Aw, UK head of tech sector at KPMG.

Lal Hussain, director of IT applications at Insight UK, said that the investments in AI chimed in with the experiences from the coalface.

"Emerging technologies such as AI are becoming increasingly fundamental to an organisations’ business strategy – particularly when it comes to managing changing customer expectations," said Hussain.

In his speech the Chancellor said a tech business was founded in the country every hour and its ambition was for that to become every half hour.

"So today we invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from Artificial Intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband," said Hammond.

He added that it was also committed to improving the education system, "Computer science is also at the heart of this revolution".

"So we’ll ensure that every secondary school pupil can study computing, by tripling the number of trained computer science teachers to 12,000," he said.

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