A new decade for techUK - What comes next
As we embark on our next decade, techUK CEO, Julian David looks back at some of the specific commitments we made:
Represent the whole tech sector across the UK’s nations and regions and create 500,000 jobs
techUK now represents over 1,000 members, from industry giants to fast growing scale-ups. Together, techUK members employ more than 1 million workers in the UK. With more than 600 small and medium-sized enterprises from each of the UK’s nations and regions, our community is diverse and vibrant, ensuring techUK remains relevant, credible, and influential.
Over the past ten years, the tech sector's economic footprint has grown by a remarkable 25%, injecting more than £150 billion into the UK economy and employing nearly 2 million people. In a landmark achievement in 2022, the UK became only the third nation worldwide to attain a $1 trillion tech sector valuation.
At techUK, we take immense pride in our role in growing the tech sector, fostering job creation, and contributing to the UK's economic prosperity. Our annual Local Digital Index report goes to the heart of identifying how tech ecosystems support the different regions and nations. The Index shows there are great examples of innovation, funding, skills, connectivity and more across the UK and helps policy makers in the regions identify where investment should be directed.
Make tech skills accessible for all
We have been actively involved in addressing the digital skills gap, initiating, and supporting programs to promote technology education, from classroom to the boardroom, including apprenticeships and skills training. In 2020, we bolstered our commitment by acquiring TechSkills, who manage the Tech Industry Gold accreditation, providing direct pathways into digital careers.
techUK has also been a steadfast advocate for diversity and inclusion. We have undertaken efforts to eliminate all-male panels and were a founding signatory of the Tech Talent Charter to drive greater diversity in the tech workforce. We continue to focus on narrowing the gender gap, enhancing ethnic diversity in the workforce, and supporting Women in Tech.
Champion UK tech across the globe
In 2013, we proposed a partnership with UK Trade and Investment to help 1,000 UK technology companies to export their goods and services for the first time. Since then, techUK has established international partnerships and collaborations around the world, including a permanent presence in Brussels, further enhancing the global reach and presence of the UK technology sector.
We have led discussions on digital trade with leading markets, including trade visits to the US, Japan, and APAC, and represented the UK in meetings with the WTO, OECD, and G7. We also led the creation of the Tech7, an alliance of tech trade associations from the G7 and the EU calling for international collaboration so that all nations may reap the benefits of tech.
Make the UK the safest place from cyber crime
techUK has played a pivotal role in promoting cyber security best practices, advocating for robust cyber security measures and industry collaboration to safeguard critical infrastructure and data. In 2016, in partnership with DSIT, we launched Cyber Exchange to map the UK cyber sector and promote cyber capability across the country. We maintain our commitment to working with the government to deliver the National Cyber Strategy.
Set up a UK Spectrum Policy Forum, to make better use of radio spectrum
In 2014 we created the UK Spectrum Policy Forum to act as a sounding board for government and Ofcom and to challenge them on the priorities for spectrum management. Together with our members we have commissioned research and brought together the latest intelligence to promote innovative applications in the public and private sector.
Adapting to a decade of great change
As an organisation born out of a fast-paced and adaptable industry, techUK has played an outsized role in national and global changes.
In the post-Brexit era, techUK played a significant role in helping the technology sector navigate the complexities of the new trade landscape, focusing on issues related to data flows, regulations, and trade agreements.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we served as a vital bridge between the government and the tech sector, filtering over 150 offers of free digital assistance to health and local authorities, aiding the nation in adapting to the unprecedented impact, and ensuring the UK economy continued to function.
And as tech firms and other sectors began their sustainability journeys, we launched our Committed to Climate Action campaign, and represented the industry at COP 26.
techUK and our members have also played a pivotal role in some of the most significant developments for industry and government over the last the decade.
We have worked with our members to help transform how IT and Digital is procured and deployed across the public sector. From partnerships with the Ministry of Defence to the NHS, to working with councils on vulnerable families or bringing forward tech solutions to challenges in our criminal justice system, we have been pivotal in the progress made in providing better, sustainable, services for citizens.
We have been vocal advocates for innovation, fostering an environment conducive to research and development, entrepreneurship, and the growth of technology startups. This includes our support for the government’s AI White Paper and our role in promoting the National Quantum Strategy, whilst also building a broad consensus around the need for the UK to be world leading on the issue of digital ethics. In 2017, we launched our Digital Ethics Summit (now in its 7th year), pioneering discussions on the development of a system of digital ethics, governance, and regulation to ensure the responsible and safe use of powerful new technologies. And just last week I was pleased to represent techUK at the government’s global AI Safety Summit.
Further events, including our Building the Smarter State Conference and Tech Policy Conference, have attracted world-leading academics, tech experts, and policy makers, supporting thought leadership and collaboration across the industry.
And we have actively engaged with policymakers, offering industry insights and recommendations to shape technology-related policies, including those related to data protection, digital taxation, competition, fraud and online safety.
The next decade
As we look ahead to the next decade, our vision remains ambitious, rooted in the opportunities presented by digital technology. Our enduring aim is to translate the promise of technology into tangible improvements for people, society, the economy, and the planet.
The pace of technological change in the decade ahead is expected to outstrip anything we have seen in the past. The potential opportunities will be huge but so will the challenges. There is much to get right.
The potential rewards are substantial, including a better-skilled, higher-paid workforce, a future-ready NHS, a faster and more cost-effective path to net zero, a more productive economy, and a restored sense of community, safety, and trust.
Over the next decade, which will be transformed by increasingly powerful AI, techUK will collaborate with our members and government stakeholders to tackle core challenges, including:
- Upskilling the workforce and driving digital adoption in UK firms.
- Creating the right conditions to help tech startups scale in the UK.
- Assisting tech firms in outcompeting international rivals to attract inward investment.
- Supporting the public sector in leveraging digital technology to its fullest potential, and
- Building more robust data ecosystems to enable transformative change.
If we navigate this path successfully, we have the potential to add £41 billion to the UK economy and generate an additional 600,000 jobs.
I look forward to continuing to work together with my colleagues, our members, partners and stakeholders as we prepare the UK for what comes next.
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