Dame Caroline Dinenage MP
Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Internet, Communications & Technology Forum (PICTFOR)
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The first week of February marks National Apprenticeship Week, with people of all ages, across the country, taking the opportunity to learn more about alternative routes through further and higher education.
For decades young people have been channelled through university, whether it’s the best route for them or not. It’s great to see how we are now moving towards a position where there is a much greater choice of high quality skills and training options.
The decision to take the university path, 3 + more years of academics with all the inherent debt, is certainly not for everyone. And modern apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships offer a wide range of attractive alternatives.
The theme of this year’s campaign from the Department for Education is ‘Skills for Life’, and the growing selection of apprenticeship options in the UK’s tech companies, from SMEs to the FTSE100, offer an excellent basis for a future career.
As we face the future we must prepare the UK’s workforce for a changing world in which skills like cyber security and coding will need to be second nature for many jobs. Technical education is a key part of this.
Last month I saw first-hand how Nash Squared are playing a vital role in securing the future of the UK’s tech talent pipeline when I visited their London headquarters.
The global economic benefits of a highly skilled and digitally enabled workforce have never been clearer. And the impact of technology on how we learn, how we communicate and how we live have never been more profound.
Yet the awesome powers of the digital world come hand in hand with a growing responsibility to better understand its dangers. Tuesday of this week was Internet Safety Day, which sees thousands of organisations work together to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.
And the Online Safety Bill is currently making its way through Parliament. As the former Minister for Digital and Culture, I oversaw the drafting and early stages of this ground breaking piece of legislation.
It attempts to regulate the online world in a way that balances freedom of expression and the interests of our significant digital economy, alongside the requirement for online platforms to keep their promises when it comes to rooting out illegal content and keeping children safe online.
In what’s been described as the most important piece of legislation of our generation, it has never been more important for members of both Houses of Parliament to understand what’s at stake.
However, our work must not stop with the passing of this Bill.
The digital economy and the way we use technology is constantly evolving, and we must remain alive to both the opportunities and concerns of industry and individuals as we scrutinise all legislation. Because from finance to fraud and data to dating, the digital world is here to stay.
Each month we invite a leading member of the UK’s parliament to share their thoughts on technology and innovation in the UK.