techUK CEO welcomes the new Prime Minister but points to a challenging road ahead
Article by Julian David, techUK CEO
The UK faces a difficult economic outlook created by the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine. Despite the usual buoyancy of the UK tech sector the negative economic headwinds of 2022 have knocked confidence. Our most recent survey of our members shows that over one third of members believe their outlook will worsen over the next 12 months and that tech businesses will particularly struggle when trying to hire new talent and fulfil their existing plans to invest in the UK.
The new Prime Minister shares our belief in the role that the UK tech sector can play to drive economic growth, not only from success among our own companies, but from the positive spill-overs tech creates across the British economy. In the past, the tech sector and the Prime Minister have worked closely together to ensure the sector delivers this, weathering the storm of COVID-19 with the creation of the Future Fund, Help to Grow and the Kickstarter scheme making a big impact.
As we confront this latest set of economic challenges techUK and our members stand ready to work with with the Government to help mitigate the impacts of the economic situation and chart a path to sustainable growth.
In our latest survey our members indicated where the Government could take steps to rebuild the confidence of the tech sector, increase investment, and boost growth. Our members have urged the following to be at the top of the new Government’s agenda:
- Finally grasping the nettle that is the UK’s digital skills and business investment crisis by focusing on incentives for businesses to invest in people, capital and ideas. This will involve a radical shake-up on how we approach apprenticeships, T-levels and in-work retraining as well as reviews of how we incentivise capital investment and innovation in our knowledge-based sectors.
- Delivering supply side reforms and Project Gigabit to rollout digital infrastructure; such as full fibre, 5G and next generation networks and,
- Remove regulatory uncertainty by working with the tech sector to deliver at pace the Online Safety Bill, Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and set out legislation for a new pro-competition regime for digital markets in a way that achieves the Government's aims but ensures a good regulatory framework for British tech businesses.
However beyond these immediate actions to drive growth we must also seek to determine how the UK can secure our place in a more uncertain and economically competitive world where leadership in science and technology is of strategic importance.
This will require the Government to continue the work to reform financial markets and the UK’s approach to investment to drive funding into UK tech scale-ups, maintain commitments to invest in research and development and ensure our future of compute, artificial intelligence and quantum strategies can nurture the industries of the future here in the UK.
Achieving these things will not be easy, however if we can unlock and spread the benefits of digital technology the we can make significant progress boosting our economy by £41.5bn and creating as many as 678,000 jobs by 2025.
Further, the spill-overs of these actions will reap benefits elsewhere, helping us meet our net zero goals through green-tech, levelling-up the UK and providing the basis for innovation in our public services across the NHS, transport and education.
techUK and our members will be working closely with the Prime Minister and his Government in the weeks and months ahead to take on the challenges the country faces and ensure that we play a role in building a better future for people, society, the economy and the planet.
Julian David is the CEO of techUK, the leading technology trade association that aims to realise the positive outcomes that digital technology can achieve for people, society, the economy and the planet.
Julian led the transformation of techUK from its predecessor Intellect in 2014, putting an increased focus on the growth and jobs the technology industry offers in a global economy. He has since led its impressive expansion driving forward the tech agenda in key areas such as skills, innovation, business success and public sector transformation. He leads techUK’s 90-strong team representing a thousand British based tech companies, comprising global and national champions and 600 SMEs. In 2020, techUK joined forces with TechSkills, the employer-led organisation that aims to improve the flow of talent into the digital workforce and open up access for all to high value tech jobs.
Julian represents techUK on a number of external bodies including the Digital Economy Council, the National Cyber Security Advisory Council and the Department of Business and Trade’s Strategic Trade Advisory Group. He is member of the NTA Advisory Board of DIGITALEUROPE and is a member of the Board of the Health Innovation Network the South London Academic Health Science Network.
Julian has over thirty years of experience in the technology industry. Prior to joining techUK, he had a series of leadership roles at IBM including Vice President for Small and Medium Business and Public Sector. After leaving IBM he worked as a consultant helping tech SMEs establish successful operations in the U.K. His personal interests include Football (West Ham, Balham FC and Real Madrid) and Art.
As Associate Director for Policy Neil leads on techUK's public policy work in the UK. In this role he regularly engages with UK and Devolved Government Ministers, senior civil servants and members of the UK’s Parliaments aiming to make the UK the best place to start, scale and develop a tech business.
Neil joined techUK in 2019 to lead on techUK’s input into the UK-EU Brexit trade deal negotiations and economic policy. Alongside his role leading techUK's public policy work Neil also acts as a spokesperson for techUK often appearing in the media and providing evidence to a range of Parliamentary committees.
In 2023 Neil was listed by the Politico newspaper as one of the '20 people who matter in UK tech' and has regularly been cited as a key industry figure shaping UK tech policy.
Margherita is the Head of Press and Media at techUK, working across all communications and marketing activities and acting as the point of contact for media enquiries.
Margherita works closely with the staff at techUK to communicate the issues that matter most to our members with the media.
Prior to joining techUK, Margherita worked in public relations across technology, public affairs, and charity, designing evidence-based strategic campaigns and building meaningful ties with key stakeholders.
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