THE BLOG

The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is Coming: We Must Be At The Forefront Of It

12/09/2017 16:21

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has already started. It's set to revolutionise the way we work and the businesses and industries of the future, from artificial intelligence to driverless cars, 3D printing to quantam computing, the speed of breakthroughs and change will be transformative.

It is therefore imperative that the government makes sure Britain is at the forefront of this revolution and reaps the potential huge rewards of it.

From education and the national curriculum, to industrial strategy and the Budget, we must adopt a whole of government approach to the challenges and opportunities brought by this period of rapid technological advancement. With a limited domestic agenda because of Brexit, this should be THE issue the government focuses its time and resources on at home.

It must start in the classroom. We need right now to be equipping our children with the skills and tools they will need to thrive. As robots and computers replace some traditional jobs of the last century, this is an issue of pressing importance. Core digital and computing skills must become a key component of the curriculum, not an additional add on, and we must give schools the resources to invest in the modern equipment needed to properly teach these skills. And later on in the educational cycle, we need to expand and improve the quality of our vocational education options, linking in much more closely with the rapidly evolving needs of industry and business.

Speaking to graduates within one of my Bangladesh subsidiary businesses, it becomes clearer everyday that the British education system needs evolving and brought into the 21st century. It's about time the Education Ministers and education experts start adopting what employers really need in relation to skills and take a more real world rather than theory based approach to teaching.

The government's Industrial Strategy has, to give it credit, focussed on the robotics and artificial intelligence that will drive our industries of the future and committed funding to new innovation. But we must also ensure we have the right basic infrastructure in place. Unfortunately it's still the case that superfast broadband provision and a good 4G phone signal remains patchy across the country and this needs to be remedied urgently. I have offices in countries that would be deemed far less developed than the UK but where you can get a good phone signal and internet connection everywhere, yet when I am in our capital city here there are still places I can't pick up a 4G connection.

The Treasury must also be ready to offer tax incentives and breaks to early innovators and simplify our hugely complex tax system. And we must continue to protect and update a strong legal framework for innovation, in particular intellectual property rights for digital assets.

Working with industry, our universities and schools, if we set the right environment now, we can develop early competitive advantage in an increasingly global economy and reap the benefits to come, using this change as an opportunity, rather than a threat to jobs.

But if we don't adapt now, we risk almost certainly being left behind. Unless we stop talking and start doing we will be the followers and not the leaders once again. Let's face it, while we bickered and argued about where to put a new London runway, China built 19 airports.

Britain once led the world as the First Industrial Revolution saw engines and coal and steam powered factories revolutionise the world's economic landscape. 250 years later, we must once again be at the forefront of another industrial revolution.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS