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Budget ‘little extras’ papers over the cracks in our education system

7 Nov 2018

Posted by Natalie Gross

Reading the response by the teaching profession to Philip Hammond’s ‘little extras’ comment has been frustrating to say the least. In two words, the Chancellor belittles the deep challenges facing our education system and has missed an opportunity to make a difference by making strategic use of a pot of money that hasn’t been made available in years. Potholes paper over cracks in infrastructure, and this scattered pot of £400 million papers over the cracks in our education system.

At BIMA, we’ve been running Digital Day around the UK for six years. Each year, 5000 students get to work with industry professionals on real world activities, to open their eyes to the range of careers on offer in the UK’s fastest growing industry. But we have to run this day using pens and paper because most schools don’t have enough computers, and teachers are bogged down by a theory-based ITC curriculum.

As co-President of the UK’s digital and tech trade body, I know for a fact how much opportunity exists in this sector for young people and it is maddening to see how far behind the government is in understanding what schools need to set students up for the future - they don’t even have funds for textbooks, let alone computers anymore, so where does that leave us? A nation lagging behind and a new generation that will miss out on opportunities to have progressive, lucrative careers in the UK in the digital and technology sector.

We can change this trajectory. BIMA Digital Day is just one brilliant example of how a real difference can be made. We are calling for a comprehensive review of the curriculum. We need to develop a definitive view of how it can allow Britain to thrive digitally – a view that is shared and championed by industry, government and educators.

BIMA is also calling for a Government-backed national communications campaign to educate and inspire – we need a powerful and omnipresent message that clearly lays out the opportunity for young Britons.

Maintaining our current state is not an option. The existing lack of skills and lack of awareness among young people is a lethal combination that will serve to stifle the growth of the British economy at a time when we most need growth and confidence.

Natalie Gross
Posted by Natalie Gross

Natalie is Co President of BIMA and is recognised as one of the top three influential digital professionals in the UK (eConsultancy Top 100, 2016). She is also Managing Partner at TH_NK. Over the last decade she led digital marketing and technology consultancy Amaze. Her tenure culminated in agency rankings of 2nd in the Drum Digital Census 2016 and 11th in the eConsultancy Top 100 Digital Agencies 2016. She led Amaze through 2 acquisitions to AIM and LSE marketing groups respectively, and was responsible for merging 3 business under the Amaze umbrella in 2008. In 2013 she led the acquisition of Amaze into St Ives plc, acquired as the first digital business within the Group, with the intention to build a significant digital offering for the plc. Since 2013, Natalie worked alongside the St Ives plc Board, defining its digital growth strategy and advising on four acquisitions in the UK and US. She has also been a co-founder of two JV start-ups during this period -Loop Integration (Chicago based specialist commerce Systems Integrator) and Amaze One (Specialist CRM agency). Alongside agency development, Natalie has worked as Executive Sponsor for key client accounts, providing strategic advice on the subjects of developing digital organisational capability as well as defining digital strategy propositions. Alongside her Executive commitments, Natalie is actively involved in the UK’s digital and marketing communities. She is a Fellow of the CIM alongside her role as President of BIMA. Natalie is also a Trustee of WWF-UK. Natalie is an industry spokesperson and mentor, with a specific focus on Digital Talent and Skills and Women in leadership.

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