‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’, our prosperous future depends on our digital skills

The Science & Technology Committee has published a report warning that the UK risks being left behind if the Government does not take more action to address the digital skills crisis12.6m adults in the UK lack basic digital skills; 5.8m people have never used the internet; only 35% of computer teachers in schools have a relevant degree and 30% of the required number of computer science teachers have not been recruited.  This digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63bn a year in lost GDP.

The MPs question why the Government has taken so long to produce the long-promised 'Digital Strategy' and call for it to be published without further delay.  The Committee warns that the Strategy needs to go further than merely listing cross-government digital activity, but present a vision for the future delivered by collaborative work from all involved—industry, educators and Government.

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Action needed on digital skills crisis

BCS calls on Government to provide the right leadership to beat digital skills gap

techUK:  UK risks falling further behind on digital skills, warns parliamentary committee

Helping small businesses ‘tune-up’ their digital skills

Training for a digital future

Paid to train, no student debt, good employment prospects for both women & men and vital for future UK economic success

Skills + experience with no personal Bills

But what will happen as people get older and potentially lose their ICT skills?

10 actions to help equip people in Europe with better skills

techUK welcomes Government commitment to basic digital skills

Questions remain on making the Apprenticeship Levy work for tech companies

Funding to support businesses with digital skills

200,000 people given the skills to contact the doctor online reducing NHS costs

Review of publicly funded digital skills qualifications

Launch of the Universal Learning Offer in libraries

Scotland’s first digital skills academy opens its doors

BCS respond to OECD report on technology in schools

Digital literacy as important as literacy and numeracy for today's society

techUK Calls for National Digital Skills Map to stop the UK Falling Behind

BCS and the Tech Partnership put professional development high on agenda for IT specialists

New plans to embed digital competence into curriculum

Managing ICT programmes continues to be a challenge

BIS announce initiatives aimed at closing the widening cyber security skills gap


Don’t Look Back: Britain’s High Streets Meet the Future of Retailing

Technology brings change. Sometimes that change is incremental, sometimes transformative. In the case of Britain’s high streets change has led to a decline in revenue and foot traffic.

In this MasterCard opinion paper, leading academic Dr Steve Millington, Co-investigator for the High Street UK 2020 report & Fellow of the Institute of Place Management, poses a key question: How can Britain’s high streets harness disruptive technology to rejuvenate the centre of our communities?

In response, Mark Barnett, President, UK & Ireland MasterCard, shares his insights and expertise outlining how MasterCard’s technology and data services can help boost Britain’s high streets and town centres. Among Barnett’s key points

  • Embed electronic payments in a town’s DNA
  • Improve access to town centres
  • Maximise growth through intelligent data analytics

Click here to download the opinion paper “Don’t Look Back: Britain’s High Streets Meet The Future of Retailing”, and learn about specific measures from MasterCard to help revitalise your high street.

Part of the solution to the issue above?
Applications are now open for computing scholarships. For the 5th year running, BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT is managing the scholarship scheme to attract trainee computing teachers.  The scheme aims to help meet the growing need for computing teachers. Scholarships - each worth £25,000 - will be available this year to find the very best potential trainee computing teachers.

BCS computing teacher training scholarships - now open for applications

Much more than one step ahead of the class now

Compare these figures to those of southern countries in EU

Unemployment has dropped to its lowest rate since 2005 while the employment rate has stayed at a record high of 74.2%.  Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show the unemployment rate now stands at 5.0% and there are nearly 31.6m people in work.

There are nearly half-a-million more people in work compared to a year ago, with wages before bonuses up by 2.3% in the same period.  The growth in employment is being driven by full-time work.  At 5.6%, the proportion of 16 to 24 year olds who have left full-time education and are unemployed has never been lower

Researched Links:

DWP:  Unemployment down as more people in work than ever before

Wales Office:  Unemployment down as Welsh jobs market out performs the UK

ScotGov:  Decrease in unemployment

WAG:  "The improving employment rate in Wales continues to outperform all other parts of the UK" - Carwyn Jones

Telegraph:  Mapped; Europe divided - how the jobless disease is splitting the continent apart

It would be deplorable if recent improvements were ‘lost’

Should we ever again believe HM Treasury’s projections?
Professor David Blake has conducted an independent review of the Treasury’s two reports on the economic consequences of a vote to leave the European Union in the Referendum on 23rd June.

CUL: Independent Review of HM Treasury’s two EU referendum models finds grossly exaggerated impact

SME Supplier Locator update...

UK Government and public sector spend with SME’s is continually on the increase and by 2020, it is the stated intent of Cabinet Office that £1 of every £3 spent on government contracts goes to SME’s. The past 5 years have seen government make a priority of getting money through its supply chain into the hands of SMEs, by both setting targets and introducing new procurement mechanisms.

Against this backdrop, the WiredGov Supplier Locator service has been developed specifically to embrace the SME Agenda and provide the ideal platform for SME’s to promote their services, solutions, accreditation and success stories directly to our ever increasing audience across all government and public sector verticals and Tier 1 suppliers.

Click here to find out more and view this week’s new arrivals to the SME Supplier Locator service. 

Montreal Convention not fit for purpose?

British air carriers should cover the full cost of damage they cause to wheelchairs & mobility devices, according to Chris Holmes, Disability Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  One of Britain’s most successful Paralympic athletes and former Director of Paralympic Integration for London 2012 has criticised British Airways and London City airport for its treatment of disabled customers.

Lord Holmes spoke out after the electric wheelchair of Athena Stevens, a playwright & actor with cerebral palsy, was irreparably damaged on a flight from London to Glasgow last October. Although the wheelchair was worth over £25,000, no appropriate offer of compensation has been made and, before Stevens began legal action, she had received only £500 from London City Airport to cover taxi costs.

As British Airways prepares to take Team GB to the Rio Paralympic Games in September, questions have also been raised as to whether the airline would also refuse to replace the equipment of Paralympic athletes competing in Rio, in the event that something was damaged.

Researched Links:

EHRC:  Pay for damaged wheelchairs, leading Paralympian tells airlines

YPO latest stakeholder channel to go live on WiredGov!

For over 40 years YPO (Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation) has supplied the public sector across the UK with products & services to help drive efficiency savings.  They use their bulk buying power to achieve the best prices for our customers on supplies and for access to contract services (known as frameworks) in everything from pens, paper and food to energy, insurance, ICT and HR services.

YPO is the largest formally constituted public sector buying organisation in the UK, with a total of 54 member authorities, meaning all profits go back into the public purse.  They provide around 30,000 products and 100 framework contracts to their customers in education, emergency services, charities, third sector and local authorities.

Researched Links:

Launch Announcement - YPO Goes live on WiredGov

Can first class travel be more cost effective?

Creating a compelling Employer Value Proposition

Searching for best value travel

Time to face up to cyber risk

Duty of care - why it matters

GPS and YPO sign revolutionary agreement

Business growth comes in all sizes

The North’s small & medium cities (SMCs) contribute £82bn a YEAR to UK economy, IPPR North report finds – more than Wales & Northern Ireland combined and their growth rates match those of their big city neighbours, making them essential for boosting growth in the Northern Powerhouse.   The research finds that the North’s smaller cities represent one third of the Northern economy and play a key role supporting the growth of their bigger neighbours.

The report ‘City systems: the role of smaller towns and cities in growing the Northern Powerhouse’ highlights the vital role such places play in the wider economy – in sectors like advanced manufacturing, energy and logistics, key strands of the government’s Northern Powerhouse strategy.   It calls for greater recognition of the complementary roles played by SMCs as part of broader ‘city systems’ to avoid the housing & congestion problems faced by London.  This would be more like the kind of successful regions seen in Germany, the Netherlands and other parts of Europe.

The analysis finds that many SMCs do face significant challenges from not being better connected to bigger cities.  But they can overcome these problems with a clear focus on their own economic strengths; tackling local skills problems; and collaborating with big-city neighbours.

Researched Links:

IPPR:  Small cities key to Northern Powerhouse success

Life & work can be ‘great’ outside London

Could your Town/City exhibit the ‘Power of the North’?

Will this ‘power-up’ the northern economy?

North of England to ‘forge’ development of new industries

Start as you mean to go on!

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) has launched new content for the Project Initiation Routemap (PIR) for improving the delivery of major projects.  The PIR is a strategic tool that allows sponsors & clients to address the problems that commonly emerge at the beginning of major projects, setting themselves up to succeed.

It forms part of the government’s National Infrastructure Delivery Plan, which sets out how the government will deliver key projects & programmes over the next 5 years.  Over 20 major projects, and programmes including Crossrail and Anglian Water’s Alliance Strategy, have undergone routemap assessments, helping to drive their successful delivery.

The launch includes 2 new modules on risk management and asset management, to complement the 5 existing modules. The risk management module will help project leaders identify and mitigate the factors that can prevent a project from meetings its objectives. The asset management module will help projects secure the best value for taxpayers and investors by ensuring they focus on managing assets across their whole lives.

Researched Links:

HM Treasury:  Improving major project delivery - Project Initiation Routemap

New National Infrastructure Delivery Plan gets Britain building

Improving Infrastructure Delivery: Project Initiation Routemap Handbook

Improving infrastructure delivery: project case studies

Projects will always be over-budget if managed retrospectively

Project management is not an ‘optional extra’ for successful delivery

Better value for money

Is this lack of ‘parental control’ child-abuse?

The number of children developing Type 2 diabetes, normally only seen in adults, as a result of being overweight or obese should be a "wake up call" to the nation ahead of the Government's forthcoming childhood obesity strategy, warn councils.  Latest figures show that there are 533 children & young people, including 11 aged nine or under, in England & Wales with Type 2 diabetes.  Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 is largely preventable and is closely linked to lifestyle, such as unhealthy eating or lack of exercise.

To coincide with Diabetes Week, the Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils with responsibility for public health, says the number will continue to rise unless bold action is taken in the Government's childhood obesity strategy.  A survey of children under 17 in the UK found that 95% of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes were overweight and 83 % obese

The first cases of Type 2 diabetes in children were diagnosed in overweight girls of Asian ethnic origin in 2000 and first reported in white adolescents in 2002.

Researched Links:

LGA:  Obesity crisis: 500 children suffering Type 2 diabetes is 'wake-up call' for the nation

Evidently it’s not just little girls that are made of ‘sugar & spice and all things nice’

Every little ‘reduces’

A bitter pill for most

Recognising most ICT managers are not computer security experts

Help shape the NCSC website for anyone with responsibility for their company's IT estate, not just for cyber specialists.  They need volunteers, from small enterprises of 1 - 250 people, who are responsible for managing or implementing the IT or online digital services for their company.  They need them to help them test various aspects of the initial National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) website.

The NCSC will be serving a broad community of users.  It is therefore important that for this particular round of testing the volunteers aren't cyber security specialists, and that the SME's they represent are not in the IT or cyber security business.

Testing will be conducted in London on 8 July and will take about an hour to complete.  Volunteers will be asked to complete a series of tasks during which time they will be encouraged to think out loud & give their opinions on their experience of using the site.  Facilitators will be there to observe, listen & take notes and are likely to ask our testers further questions. The goal of the test is to identify any usability problems, collect qualitative & quantitative data and determine our volunteer's satisfaction with the usability of the initial NCSC website.

Researched Links:

CESG:  NCSC website usability testing underway and we need volunteers

Ensuring the safety of the UK

Editor’s observations Post -Referendum:

Many of us who actually participated in the 1975 referendum voted for joining the then European Economic Community (EEC), which was ‘sold’ to us by politicians of all parties, as a free trade agreement (i.e. nothing like what the EU is now).  40 years on, it’s hardly surprising that the majority of those old enough to remember voted ‘Leave’.

Junker & Merkel ‘gave’ Cameron absolutely nothing to mitigate the impact of a potentially unlimited number of EU citizens moving to the UK.  If they had done, rather than Junker confirming last Wednesday that there was ‘no chance of an improved offer if we voted to stay in’, then the vote might have gone the other way – Their arrogance & inflexibility ‘lost it’! :
Cameron should demand EU fund to ease pressures on local services - IPPR ~ CIVITAS:  Economic benefits of large-scale immigration outweighed by strains of population growth

While many EU citizens have taken jobs in the UK that have boosted our economy & public services, many are ‘employed’, but are not ‘critical’ to the UK’s well-being & economy and only increase demand on our public services, housing, schools, etc.
So ‘Tens of Thousands’ is the right policy!

Many voters asked what the EU has done for our industries,  when entire fishing communities around the UK have been decimated by the EEC/EU forcing us to give away most of our fishing rights and the UK government appears unable to support strategic industries (such as steel) in times of crisis because of EU rulings;
Why the Government cannot just simply ‘Do Something’ about UK Steel Plants

Nobody really believed that the UK would be anywhere near the ‘centre of things’ in 2030 as, by then, the EU will either be disintegrating or be well on the path to a United States of Europe.
Editorial Commentary: Examining the ‘sacrificial entrails’ of past promises & current announcements to anticipate the 2030+ future

By the way, has anyone else remembered that the UK is due to hold the Presidency of the EU for the second half of 2017?  If we are not allowed to take it up, should we demand an additional rebate on our contribution, as we are supposed to maintain all our rights & duties for the 2 years of the Article 50 negotiations!

Also if they restrict UK passporting of financial operations within the EU before the 2 years are up could we start excluding EU boats from a revived 200 mile fishing limit?  Another complication is that the French Presidential elections will be held in April / May 2017 and German elections between August & October 2017.

Finally, with regards to the e-petition for a re-run of the referendum, it turns out to be a ‘you couldn’t make it up’ story.  According to the Independent, a Leave campaigner (who was worried Remain would win) set up the petition in May.  It asks for the EU referendum to be re-run, if the ‘Remain or Leave’ vote was less than 60%, based a turnout of less than 75%.  It has subsequently been ‘hijacked’ by Remain, but one assumes that they themselves will abide by the ‘terms of the vote’ and only expect a debate in Parliament if they get 75% of 46,499,537 eligible voters (34,874,652) turning out to sign it (or if one was  generous) 60% of that number (20,924,791).

Researched Links:

Telegraph:  Petition for EU referendum re-run hits 3m as David Lammy MP calls for parliament to block Brexit

BBC:  Second EU referendum petition investigated for fraud

Concern as call for new Brexit vote gains more than 39,000 signatures from Vatican City - population 800

Independent:  Brexit campaigner admits he set up second EU referendum petition

Electoral Commission:  Provisional electorate figures published ahead of the EU referendum


 More contributions to the EU Referendum

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

Vote Leave - the campaign for a Leave vote in the EU referendum

Britain Stronger In Europe

Open Europe

PC&PE:  Contingency plans needed to protect UK science

Electoral Commission statement on assessment of Ryanair spending on EU Referendum campaigning

CJEU: The UK can require recipients of child benefit & child tax credit to have a right to reside in the UK

Dijsselbloem: concerns about flexible application Stability & Growth Pact rules

Time to revise the EU long-term budget to boost growth & respond to migration crisis

CUL: Independent Review of HM Treasury’s two EU referendum models finds grossly exaggerated impact

IEA:  Leave or remain: the two best paths to economic freedom


 Since EU Referendum

News, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

10DS:  EU referendum outcome: PM statement, 24 June 2016

NHS Confederation response to Brexit

RUSI Brexit Decision: The UK Needs to Become the EU's New Best Friend

IEA reaction to Leave vote in EU referendum

JRF response to the EU referendum – We cannot afford to return to business as usual

CBI comments on UK vote to leave the EU

LGA statement on 'leave' vote in EU referendum

CIPD responds to EU Referendum ‘leave’ decision and what it may mean for the world of work

TUC: Working people must not pay the price of leaving the EU

BCS reaction to the EU referendum result

Editor’s Note:  We suggest readers monitor the ‘News’ sections of the 2 campaign sites for the 2 differing views.  The WGPlus newsletter will mainly limit itself to highlighting ‘normal’ EU-related news, plus Think Tank items, PC&PE reports, etc.


 More contributions to the UK constitutional debate

More news, opinions, documents, claims & counter-claims;

Researched Links:

PC&PE:  Constitution Committee publishes report on 2015-16


Please note that previously published newsletters can be accessed from the

Newsletter Archive

Please choose from the links below to view individual sections of interest:

With the EU referendum taking place this week, Unison's annual conference this week could not be happening at a more important, or uncertain, time, according to its general secretary Dave Prentis.
Growing staff shortages, increasingly fragmented services, the draconian Trade Union Act and high cost of housing are all on the agenda – problems that aren't going away, whichever way we vote today. But, Prentis says, Unison won't stop fighting to protect public sector workers’ jobs and living standards.

Popular on the network
Why Britain's new mayors will have real power

Why Britain's new mayors will have real power
Jo Casebourne: Previous attempts have largely failed, but this time even shadow ministers are running

The techies transforming UK and US governments

The techies transforming UK and US governments
William D. Eggers: It takes a certain kind of leader to force governments into the digital age

I remember my first arrest – he was 12

I remember my first arrest – he was 12
Anonymous: I had been a police officer for three days, one hour and 15 minutes when I arrested Jonathan

News in brief
• Brexit could cause years of instability for central government
• Enfield Council brings in artificial intelligence to deliver services
• Brexit to pose ‘all-consuming’ task for Whitehall
• 73% of council staff reported rising levels of stress, Unison survey
• Procurement staff urged to keep an eye on cartel-like behaviour by suppliers
• Councils referred nearly 300 people to deradicalisation programme