In June I announced the start of a conversation on Jersey’s digital future. We published a draft Digital Policy Framework and asked for everyone to give their views on our ambitions. With just over one week left of the official consultation period, I thought now would be a good time to summarise some of the key messages we’ve heard so far.
A digitally skilled workforce naturally starts with good education. Some of you want to see ICT as a mandatory GCSE subject, others think coding is more important, while a number of you feel that creative problem solving must run through every part of the curriculum to foster the creativity of tomorrow’s digital leaders. What’s clear from this is that Jersey needs a curriculum that has variety, encourages creativity and has ICT essentials at its core. Going forward I’ll continue to discuss all of this with the Education Minister, Rod Bryans. Also, so far everyone has agreed with our objective to encourage talented digital professionals to relocate to Jersey. This is not about filling existing jobs with overseas workers, it’s about stimulating the local sector and creating opportunities for local people – a model that’s proven by Jersey’s finance and business services sector.
I’m really encouraged to see how many people recognise the benefits that universal fibre will bring Jersey. But you’ve also been clear that the rollout has not been fast enough. We’ve also heard calls for free public Wi-Fi, clearer roadmapping of telecoms development in the Island, and for CICRA to be afforded more powers to regulate the quality of telecoms service provision. We’ll be reflecting on all of this feedback as we continue to develop our telecoms policy.
Government Digital Transformation
Again – in our conversations over the last couple of months, many people have made it clear that they want eGov, but that it’s not happening quickly enough, or with enough transparency. I agree that this needs to happen faster and the Chief Minister has already appointed Deputy Scott Wickenden to a new role as Assistant Minister with responsibility for eGov. Deputy Wickenden’s key focus is to drive the programme forward. You’ve also agreed that a ‘digital government’ is about more than bringing services online. It’s about providing high quality, secure, data-driven services that meet Islanders’ needs and are easy to use.
A Diverse and Innovative Digital Economy
A lot of you have identified this as being the most important part of the framework – pointing out that success in this area will support the other strategic goals. You’ve asked us to be clearer about what our ambitions are, and more accountable about how we measure success. We’ll make sure that we address this in the next version of the framework.
A Robust Cyber Security Framework
We’ve heard that some of you are concerned about the security of your online personal details. There will always be a risk, and that is why we are currently writing a comprehensive cyber security strategy that covers government systems, Jersey’s critical national infrastructure – that is our water, electricity, airport etc. – our businesses, and individuals; due to be published later this year.
The conversation so far has been really positive. There’s just over a week left on the official consultation, so if you haven’t already responded – please do so at www.gov.je/digitalpolicyframework by next Friday 5 August.
But that doesn’t mark the end of the conversation. As our plans develop, we want to continue talking to you (and more importantly listening to you) and seeking constructive challenge. That way our plans will be more robust, and our digital future more certain.