With both the government and Labour championing the digitisation of the public sector, concerns are growing that the country lacks the IT skills necessary to move services from an analogue age into a digital era.
Julian David (pictured), chief executive at TechUK, acknowledged that this is a problem that both government and the 850 members of the technology industry that his organisation represents, need to address.
"Our response to that is that we need to change the approach to technical skills in this country dramatically," he told V3.
David said initiatives such as teaching children to code in schools were a step in the right direction but would only solve the skills gap in the long term. A more immediate solution, he argued, would be to reinstate the Post Study Work Visa, which had allowed students from outside of Europe to work in the country after attending a UK university, before it was closed in 2012.
"We need migration. We need the ability to bring global skills here," he said, reinforcing TechUK's call for the government to bring back the Post Study Work Visa.
"We recommend smart migration; let's actually get the people we need to get the things done for our economy and for our citizens and society."
Liberal Democrat Lord Timothy Clement-Jones has also echoed the need to bring in IT skills from outside the EU, and added his voice to calls to make it easier for non-European graduates to work in the UK.
"We've got to take a look at how we treat overseas students, and like Australia, reverse some of the policies that have been put in place," he said at the launch of TechUK's manifesto.
Both TechUK and the main political parties have also called for more involvement from the technology industry in plugging the skills gap.
David said that for government to find the digital skills it needs to transform the public sector, it must look at bringing in expertise from the private sector.
"It's got to engage the whole of the private sector, and often that means [engaging with] big companies, because small companies don't have a lot of spare resources. So they've got to engage and set things up," he said.
"There's a lot of goodwill from the industry. The industry has said it's willing to do it [and] offered to bring best practice from the private sector," added David.
Andy Green, non-executive director at ARM, agreed in part with David, but believes government needs to channel more money into helping technology companies involved in teaching digital skills.
He told V3 the government needs to "move the needle" when it comes to directing skills funding to technology businesses.
However, with high-tech companies also competing hard for skilled workers, the public sector could still struggle to secure the highly-sought after skills it will need to deliver effective digital services.
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