Committee lambasts GDS for digital strategy delay

The government has 'failed to addressed' the country's digital skills shortage

The Science and Technology Committee has sent a letter of complaint to digital minister Matt Hancock, saying the government has not been fast enough to roll out its digital strategy plans.

The plan was supposed to address concerns that the UK lacks the essential skills and equipment to train younger generations to participate in the UK's growing digital economy.

The strategy was laid out after the Government Digital Service was awarded 450 million in November 2015 to help improve resources and train the additional 745,000 workers the sector needs to be successful. However, it was delayed until spring 2016 and then again when Brexit took priority.

Stephen Metcalfe MP, chair of the committee, said its major complaint was that the government took more than six months to provide a response to its Digital Skills Crisis report, which means none of the points have been actioned and the problem has not improved.

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"Our disappointment over such a long delay is compounded by the continued absence of the Government's long-promised 'Digital Strategy' because much of the focus for our report was that Digital Strategy - seven of our 27 recommendations explicitly addressed it," Metcalfe wrote.

According to Ed Vaizey, the digital economy minister at the time of the Digital Skills Report's publication, the strategy had already been written and was merely awaiting publication in the Downing Street 'grid.'

However, the latest response seems to contradict this and now Metcalfe and the Science and Technology Committee is calling for the government to tell the group why it has taken so long to respond and when the strategy will be published for review.

"We have maintained a hope that this indicated that the government was taking our recommendations on-board in this strategy - redrafting it as necessary. But the recently provided Government Response to our report provides no information on how recommendations bout the strategy will be addresses," Metcalfe said.

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