Ensuring the UK's digital future post-referendum

Following up from the initial statements on the EU referendum, we’re looking to start a series of dialogues amongst BCS members, and with partners / stakeholders, to help ensure a prosperous and thriving future. There is a great deal of work to do to support policymakers, the profession, and wider society who are facing an array of complex and difficult decisions. The next step is to get ideas and test thinking amongst the IT community as we start to absorb the result, so we’re looking to get your views via a survey. This will inform our collective onward path, and help us get members throughout the UK and beyond discussing these important issues.

The last few days…

This has been and continues to be one of the most volatile and unpredictable political and economic situations for the UK in modern times, and there is a great deal of uncertainty as a result. Following the outcome of the referendum, we’ve been engaging in a lot of informal dialogue, and put forward our initial position in the media. Building on the statement issued last Friday, a few themes are continuing to develop - and will evolve as the context becomes clearer.

Confidence & opportunities
Uncertainty can be dangerous, but it can also lead to opportunities. If as a professional community we’re to live up to our Charter, we need to be a source of confidence for colleagues and the organisations we deal with or are employed by. There are undoubtedly risks and opportunities, and the strengths that enable us to deal with or mitigate these risks and exploit opportunities are unchanged.

Recommendation to members: Be a source of confidence in your organisation, and look for opportunities for innovation.

Leading, not following
We also need to play a role in reducing uncertainty and increasing confidence, not by waiting for others to work out what needs doing, but by getting together and defining what the UK needs to be successful in the digital sphere. Those involved in negotiations at all levels will need help, and the BCS community has a great deal to offer; we already have a track record of having lots to say on the issues, with even more emerging from our networks.

Recommendation to members: Don’t leave the situation to others, but engage through BCS and other channels to ensure that the negotiations are well informed, positive, and lead to the best possible outcomes for a digital UK.

Talent planning
Irrespective of the economic situation, compliance with the General Data Protection Regulations that come into effect in 2018, and other factors, will mean that organisations need access to capable people who can steer and implement change. EU regulation will still apply until a final agreement is reached, and many elements of EU law are likely to still apply for the long term; organisations will be dealing with a great deal of change. So while many areas of the economy may be worried about contraction, the IT profession is likely to be incredibly busy through any likely scenario.

Recommendation to members: The EU referendum makes talent planning around IT even more essential for organisations that wish to be successful post-exit. Apprenticeships, links to universities, and developing talent amongst teams are all essential.

An international perspective

BCS is a UK-based organisation, with a thriving non-UK membership and warm relationships with organisations across the globe. We want to underscore how much we value our partners throughout Europe and the world, and if anything this only becomes more important to us as an organisation and professional community. It is through those personal, supra-national, relationships that we find the maximum mutual benefit.

It should also go without saying that, along with every other British institution, we are committed to making the UK a welcoming and respectful place for all.

A team perspective

This is an incredibly busy time for everyone - members, stakeholders, the BCS staff team - and there is a great deal of opportunity for us all to make a difference to the society we live in when it’s needed most. On behalf of all of those involved, we’d like to thank the many members who’ve got in touch to share ideas or help out, and the many positive / constructive comments we’ve had on the positions we need to take. Keep them coming! Our community is at its best when we work together positively under a united purpose to make IT good for society.

The survey is now closed.

About the author

Thoughts on membership, the profession, and the occasional pseudo-random topic from the BCS Policy and Community Director.

See all posts by David Evans
February 2019

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