The last four years have seen remarkable developments in the IT sector. Mobile phones now reach over 40% of the UK market; digital television enjoys a market of over three million viewers; and internet take-up continues to grow at remarkable levels. In all these technologies, the UK is a world leader creating opportunities for new businesses, new applications, new services and new jobs.
This government is committed to making sure our computing industry is the most competitive in Europe, and in making Britain the best place to do ecommerce in the world.
So far we have achieved a lot, but there is more to do. Our universities are spinning out successful new IT companies and our technologists are pushing the boundaries of modern computing.
We are seeing venture capitalists, telecoms companies and individual entrepreneurs flocking to the UK, confirming our position as the single most popular destination for inward investment into Europe.
The market is the driver of this revolution, but the Government has a crucial role to play. One of the most debilitating challenges facing the IT industry is the lack of skilled personnel. We need to make sure we fill that gap and allow the industry to keep growing.
Labour is committed to increased funding for higher and further education, and building up the nation’s skills base. Government can also help to develop new markets. Our constructive engagement in Europe is helping to open up a vast market of 370 million people.
We are now well on the way to a new directive to remove legal barriers to ecommerce across the single market. The Government is also investing heavily in the new wave of computing technology.
From the laser to Xerox, successful new technologies have often resulted from government funded blue skies research. By 2004 the science budget will have increased by 40% in real terms since 1997, much of that specifically allocated to e-science and new computing technologies.
The Labour Government has not only invested in skills, science and market reform, it has also provided the vital economic stability which is essential to research, development and investment.
Our prudent stewardship of the economy has allowed the IT sector, like thousands of others, to plan for growth. We must build on that success and ensure that we never return to the instability of the early 1990s which undermined the IT sector so brutally.
The British computing industry has proved itself a highly competitive sector, and we must do nothing to jeopardise that.
- This article first appeared in Computing and on vnunet.com.
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