In Chancellor Philip Hammond’s latest Budget, he announced plans to tackle the UK’s poor levels of productivity by investing extra funding in artificial intelligence, technological advancements and digital skills.
Hammond launched the national productivity investment fund last year, but now he plans to increase this investment from £23 billion to £31 billion in order to kick-start productivity and efficiency levels in the UK.
The productivity of the UK is measured by the economic output per hour generated by UK workers. Due to an inadequate rise in the rate of productivity in the UK, the economy will be severely impacted and prevented from growing rapidly in the next 10 years. Therefore, Hammond has put steps in place which he believes will assist in the rise of pay rates for British workers, which in turn should increase the amount of work they can do.
During his budget, Hammond said ‘A new tech business is founded in Britain every hour, and I want that to be every half hour…’.
Hammond plans to action this by increasing spending in the following areas:
– Driverless car testing
– Electric car charge points
– 5G mobile networks
– 8,000 additional fully qualified science teachers
– Digital and construction skills training
– Clean car purchases
Although Hammond described the UK as a ‘world leader’ in cutting-edge technology, a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) suggests that top-cited scientific research and AI inventions are both decreasing. In addition, the OECD suggested that the UK was responsible for only 1.9% of AI-related patent applications between 2010 and 2015, whilst Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China were responsible for 70% of such developments.
In the past, the UK government has faced criticism over the lack of secondary schools offering Computer Science as a GCSE option. Hammond made clear in his budget that they are taking steps to improve digital skills amongst the existing workforce and the next generation of workers by investing an additional £406 million in maths and technical skills education.
What do you think about these new investments, is it a welcome step or is it too little too late?