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Mackay pledge on reform of services

Government unveils 2021 digital strategy

Derek Mackay (photo by Terry Murden)

Plans to boost business connectivity with higher broadband speeds and the number of digital jobs to 150,000 by 2021 have been outlined by the Scottish Government.

The digital strategy builds on the announcement last week of a digital growth fund and today there were calls for the government to match its pledge with swift delivery.

Launching the strategy during a visit to a newly converted high-tech acceleration and growth space in Glasgow, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: “Digital is transforming the way we live. It is connecting us faster than ever before while putting more power into the hands of service users.

“There is a huge opportunity here and now to ensure that people, businesses and organisations across Scotland, are given the tools and skills they need to harness this potential.

“Our vision is for Scotland to become even more digitally competitive and attractive.

“By developing our existing workforce and increasing our digital capabilities across society and the business community, we will ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to improve their digital skills with everyone who wants to get connected able to do so, and public services designed by and for citizens that are secure. This will in turn will have a positive impact on growing our economy.”

The government intends to place digital at the heart of everything it does from reforming public services to delivering economic growth. This includes:

  • Creating the conditions which could lead to 150,000 working in digital technology jobs across Scotland by the start of the next decade.
  • Ensuring that every premises in Scotland is able to access broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2021
  • A new digital schools programme
  • A new round of funding for community digital inclusion projects and expand Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter
  • Infrastructure that is secure and resilient against cyber attack
  • A £36m Digital Growth Fund to provide loans to companies who wish to develop the digital skills of their staff in areas such as cyber security, data analytics and software engineering.

Andy Willox, FSB’s Scottish policy convenor, said: “A government strategy document rarely excites small firms. But little is more important to Scotland’s business community than enhancing our country’s digital capabilities. This wide-ranging publication must be matched with political and entrepreneurial drive to swiftly deliver change. 

“Scottish Government figures show 75 per cent of Scottish businesses believe digital technology is essential or important to their plans for growth. To achieve these ambitions, firms need access to the right skills and modern digital infrastructure – specifically broadband and mobile coverage. Progress on these fronts cannot come quickly enough.”

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