It’s an ambitious plan to transform the benefits system – but it looks as though the technology meant to power universal credit is turning into another great government IT disaster.
This morning the work and pensions secretaryIain Duncan Smith told the BBC that the planned 2017 deadline for the programme would probably slip – although the DWP statement still talks optimistically of the continued “safe and secure roll-out” of the scheme.
One civil servant close to the situation has painted a rather different picture. He tells me that DWP staff at the frontline are doing a heroic job using the IT but they are “struggling so much with the number of times they have to re-key, systems are crashing. They’re not joined up, they just can’t cope with the messy reality of people’s lives”.
The IT system that the DWP is using at the moment is the one severely criticised in a National Audit Office report. It has been developed mainly by big outside contractors such as Accenture and IBM at a cost of more than £300m. Some believe much of that money will have to be written off.
I wrote a piece for University Business on the future of education technology. You can read it here.
UK HE is placing a higher priority on attracting international students than ever before. Indeed, my own institution, the University of the West of Scotland, has recently been rated as amongst the top 5% of universities worldwide. While this is an exciting development it also comes with its own challenges including tailoring teaching, research and the university’s procedures to ensure a fulfilling experience. Enabling all of this is the underpinning technical infrastructure.
Google and Udacity have launched a free, learn to program scholarship, exlusively for Europeans.
The great thing about the web is that it enables anyone – from anywhere, of any age, and any skillset – to start a new business, grow an existing one, become an entrepreneur, a developer or a content creator or hone a new skill. From Berlin to Birmingham we’ve met people across Europe who are doing just that – developing the digital know-how needed to achieve their dreams.
Like Evrard in France, who works for GreenRiver, a small company providing private cruises along the river Seine and the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris. He joined our training programme Google pour Les Pros, where he was trained by a Google AdWords advisor over three months. He learned how to launch digital marketing campaigns and discovered other tools that helped increase their online visibility. He told us, “After Google pour Les Pros training our business grew by 30% and sales grew by 60% in one year”. Green River is now using Evrard’s learning as a stepping stone to further success.
Evrard is just one of the nearly 2 million people we’ve trained over the last 2 years as part of our Growth Engine programme to help close the digital skills gap among Europeans. And yet there’s still more work to be done. On current projections, the growing gap between skills required and the training that workers receive, has lead the EU to predict that almost a million ICT jobs would remain unfilled by 2020.
That’s why today Google, Bertelsmann (the global media, services and education company) and e-learning provider Udacity are coming together with a goal of closing the mobile digital skills gap in Europe and preparing the new European workforce with the mobile development skills needed to help them get a job or start their own business.
Safer Internet Day SID is an annual, global campaign that promotes a healthy Internet for everyone. Organized by Insafe and co-founded by the European Union, Safer Internet Day encourages the responsible use of online technologies and services. This year’s theme, “Let’s create a better Internet together,” reminds us that we all have an active role to play in helping to protect our families, information, and devices.
Microsoft continues its commitment to help make the Internet safer for people of all ages and abilities through investments in family safety technology, key partnerships, and consumer education and guidance.
To mark SID, we are launching an interactive website—Microsoft.com/SaferOnline—where people can #Do1Thing to stay safer online and create a better Internet, learn what others around the world are doing to avoid risks, and raise Microsoft dollars for TechSoup Global, a nonprofit organization using technology to solve global problems & foster social change.