Scottish government launches post-COVID strategy to increase digital skills and participation

The blueprint sets out plans to drive economic growth, reform public services and prepare the future workforce for an increasingly technological world

The Scottish government has published a renewed digital strategy, setting out a number of “ambitious reform” objectives centred on digital investment and prosperity.

The updated plan, A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world, is split into the three divisions of: people and places; the digital economy; and digital government.

The 111-page document specifies goals for increased use of technology across Scottish education and government, on top of heightened focus and investment in digital industries, while outlining plans to drive post-pandemic economic growth, reform public services and prepare the future workforce for an increasingly connected technological world.

In terms of public services, the government has said it plans to take a new unified approach across both internal and external organisational boundaries. As stated in the strategy: “We will set out new and ambitious reform programmes for key areas of government, including health and social care, learning, justice, planning, schools and agriculture and the rural economy. Recognising that delivery processes, and the user experience, often cross traditional departmental boundaries, much of this work will require the breaking down of those traditional barriers.”

In related news: ‘Game-changing’ initiative will pave way for 4G and 5G connectivity in Scotland

The government has noted that inclusivity and accessibility will be key priorities in the design and delivery of such services. “This will include the development of tools, processes and approaches that will allow identity to be established in a secure and sympathetic way for the digitally excluded,” the strategy explains.

Additionally, the document stresses digital data and infrastructure as “critical”, emphasising that these elements include much more than “physical connections”.

It adds that all areas of Scotland and all citizens should have access to “good-quality” connectivity moving forward.

When it comes to digital upskilling in both education and training to “rapidly increase the number of digitally skilled individuals graduating from our universities and colleges each year”, the government aims to help organisations become “secure digital businesses”, allowing them to recruit and retain skilled digital talent.

The plan is to open access to digital opportunities to all individuals regardless of age or background, establishing an “ethical framework, to define the sort of nation we wish to become”, as the document explains.

Scotland’s minister for trade, innovation and public finance Ivan McKee says in the report’s foreword that one perk the pandemic is that it has highlighted the importance digital technologies and industries – but, he stresses, it has also further illuminated the threat of digital inequality and exclusion.

“[COVID-19] has reminded us all that whilst technology can transform lives for the better, it’s essential that we ensure that no one is left behind,” said the minister.

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