Digital the focus for 2016

The Gatwick Diamond Economic Growth Forum will take place this year on June 9, at the Arora Hotel in Crawley, and this year’s focus will be “Growing our Digital Economy”.

The digital economy is developing rapidly worldwide. It is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness and growth, and it holds huge potential for entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises. How Gatwick Diamond businesses adopt digital technologies will be a key determinant of their future growth.

It is no longer accurate to talk about a digital sector alone. In the Gatwick Diamond new digital trends such as the internet of things, cloud computing, mobile web services, smart grids, and social media, are radically changing the business landscape, reshaping the nature of work, the boundaries of enterprises and the responsibilities of business leaders from the largest of organisations to the smallest.

These trends enable more than just technological innovation. They spur innovation in business models, business networking and the transfer of knowledge and access to international markets. The strongest sectors in the Gatwick Diamond – advanced manufacturing and engineering; medical devices and health technologies; and professional and business services – are already taking advantage of the clear link between market competitiveness and the uptake and application of digital technology in the workplace. Conversely, a lack of digital investment and infrastructure can place companies at a competitive disadvantage. We need to benchmark our own infrastructure which is woefully inadequate still in many parts of the Gatwick Diamond, particularly in industrial estates and outside of towns. How do we achieve adequate digital investment into our infrastructure to enable our businesses to grow?

We will also look at Digital Skills and the Talent Pool asking ourselves ‘How can the supply of digital skills meet the demand of the labour market?’

The shortage in digital skills represents a key bottleneck for industry. There is an increasing range of activities and occupations where digital skills are needed but supply is not adequate. There is a lack of awareness of career opportunities within the digital sector, sometimes reflecting skill and gender stereotypes around the types of roles that exist. And there are challenges in matching the speed of change in the education sector, to the speed of demand, and the rapidly changing skill sets needs in the economy and society.

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