Speaking at the launch of an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on 4IR, Hammond said that retooling the economy will be vital as new technologies redefine workplaces and disrupt jobs.
He lambasted the UK’s previous failures to capitalise on technological innovation, which had led to “poor productivity performance”, with the country lagging behind its peers. Looking ahead, he offered a vision of British industry being an aggressive competitor, building on a “digital sector that is the envy of the world”, coupled with “the decision of global tech giants to invest in the UK”.
Hammond promised the full support of the Government, with plans to nurture the future talent of British engineering as well as providing an infrastructure capable of handling the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Part of this will involve encouraging further investment through collaboration with businesses to ensure the longevity of technological development schemes.
“As we begin our negotiations to exit the European Union, we will embrace this technological revolution, seek to maximise its potential to transform our productivity to ensure that the UK remains at the cutting edge of its development, and actively manage its impact,” Hammond told the audience of more than 250 Parliamentarians and business leaders. “We will face up to the challenges of preparing our workforce with the skills they need for the jobs of the future but, in the end, delivering prosperity has to be a collaboration between Government and private business.
“Government can help, Government can facilitate, in some cases Government can kick-start, but Government – as our history tells us very clearly – cannot, in the long-run, deliver the continuously added value that is what ensures our future ongoing prosperity.
The All-Party Group will work to raise awareness of the Fourth Industrial Revolution among Parliamentarians, industry, academia, the media and others. It chair is Alan Mak, Conservative MP for Havant and its vice-chair is Labour MP, Peter Kyle.
“Our country and the whole world is witnessing an unprecedented wave of new technology” said Mak at the launch. “We as policy-makers in Westminster have to respond.
“We have to invest in our research and development, our world-class science and technology base”, he continued. “We have to upgrade our digital infrastructure, to make sure we’ve got strong foundations for growth in the future.
“We have to back our apprentices and invest in technical education, so that our workforce can take up the jobs of the future”.