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Entrepreneur Calls for Urgent Shift in MPs' Tech Attitude

Article date: Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:45 GMT

technology entrepreneur

A technology entrepreneur is calling for an urgent change in Westminster's approach to technology to protect the country's digital future.

Lawrence Jones, CEO of £30m turnover firm UKFast said: "We've all heard about the growing skills gap in the technology sector and while small steps are being taken to protect the UK's technological future, we are still seeing outdated attitudes toward technology in the bowels of Westminster and I believe that's hindering any progress we might make."

Jones' reaction comes after seeing MPs' struggle to upgrade to Microsoft's Office 365 hit national headlines and led to a commissioned report.

Jones said: "It's incredibly concerning that a simple upgrade to one of the most useable office tools has been met with such difficulty and made headlines. It's embarrassing! How can these people choose how to drive our country's technology education forward when they don't have a grasp of the basics?

"Whether it's more training that's needed or a shift to a 'can do' attitude, I don't know. But bickering over something as simple as the choice of email client is not the way to represent our technological reputation to the rest of the world."

"Whilst there are small steps of progress, like the change in the IT curriculum at schools, the simplest of technology changes causes a massive step back in our global reputation."

Jones has taken a keen interest in the way technology is taught in schools since he set up hosting firm, UKFast, in 1999. An advocate of the National IT Diploma and supporter of quality apprenticeships in the tech sector, Jones recruited two ex-teachers in 2013 to front the firm's apprenticeship and training programme.

Jones visited the House of Commons last week to attend a lunch with Lord Baker in association with the Careers College Trust. The Trust works to create Career Colleges, which align education with the needs of real businesses and provide students with vocational training.

UKFast is working alongside Oldham College to develop the UK's first career college and Jones believes that these initiatives could be a strong sign of progress for the country's tech future.

Jones said: "We've been working closely with educational institutes for a long time and this year, with a £4.5m investment in training and education at UKFast, we've really stepped that up. Part of this is working with projects like Oldham College's Careers College (the first of its kind in the UK) and helping to create the curriculum for a Masters in cloud computing with Westminster University.

"It's great to see initiatives like this. The very fact that the government is asking for businesses' contributions is a great sign.

"Businesses are helping to drive the UK's tech future and it's time for the government to get their heads in the game and start leading from the front with this, rather than embarrassing us by bickering over technology that children can use."

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