The IT industry could be a key beneficiary from a government plan to spend more than £1.25bn to boost scientific research and training.
The Science, Engineering and Technology strategy, issued today by the Department for Education and Skills, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury, will have a profound effect on the development of IT in the UK, a government spokesman told vnunet.com.
It will provide the cash for IT training and give a boost to manufacturers to research and produce hi-tech products, he said.
The initiative will also give more to the Small Business Service to encourage ebusiness, as well as provide extra cash for e-government programmes and increased roll-outs of broadband high speed internet connections.
Part of the 2002 Spending Review, the cash aims to boost the UK's economic performance and raise levels of innovation and growth.
Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, explained that it is vital that the Government strengthens the UK's science and technology research base and improves flagging scientific and technical skills.
"We are determined to make sure that the UK remains at the forefront of scientific and technological progress, and that it converts this advantage to our economic gain," he said.
Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, maintained that the investment will help "companies innovate to produce the products that people want to buy tomorrow".
Estelle Morris, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, added: "This new investment will boost teaching skills, fund increases in pay in higher education and provide exciting new training opportunities."
The strategy ties together the increases to science, engineering and technology spending across schools and universities, along with the Government's actions to boost business innovation through wider economic reforms.
Under the plan, money will be used to fund undergraduates and postgraduates to go back into schools to support teachers and pupils, and improve maths and science curricula. Technology laboratories and equipment in universities and schools will be modernised.
But Clive Longbottom, service manager at analysis company Quocirca, did not believe that the move would have much impact on IT companies.
"Hi-tech companies will do well from this, but standard IT companies will not," he told vnunet.com. "This is more for blue-sky work.
"I suspect that, if someone comes to the government with plans for a smaller new-generation phone, they will be told to go away but, if it is for nanobots, then they will get the cash."
He added that the Government is probably less worried about IT skills shortages now that the bottom has dropped out of the job market, but it will always have trouble finding 'bleeding edge' engineers.
It will be these that will be getting the money from the science strategy for training, Longbottom concluded.
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