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BECKETT OUTLINES WAY FORWARD TO THE INFORMATION AGE

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A coherent strategy to help Britain take the lead in the information ...
A coherent strategy to help Britain take the lead in the information

age has been published by Margaret Beckett, president of the board

of trade.

She also announced a new information age partnership bringing

together leading chief executives from the information age

industries to work with government to exploit opportunities.

'Our Information Age' sets out the range of activity underway or

planned within government based on the goals of:

- harnessing the potential of IT to transform education

- widening access to new technologies

- promoting competition and competitiveness

- fostering high quality new services

- modernising government

Mrs Beckett said: 'The statement demonstrates the importance government attaches to new technologies across all aspects of national life. It sets out a coherent strategy to help the UK exploit the opportunities and become a world leader. Our ability to meet these challenges will be a crucial factor in our competitiveness as a nation in the years ahead.

'The government has a key role but is only one among a number of

players. It is important that we foster a strong partnership

between the public and private sectors to achieve the full

competitiveness benefits.

'The formation of the information age partnership will help achieve

this by bringing together leading chief executives from the

information age industries to focus on some of the key issues, such

as electronic business, where industry and DTI, working together,

can help accelerate developments.'

The information age partnership will complement the work of the

information age competitiveness working party set up under the

Competitiveness UK initiative in November 1997 to help feed into the

Competitiveness White Paper to be published later this year.

'Our Information Age' also sets out plans for the DTI-led programmes

IT for All and the Information Society Initiative (ISI) Programme

for Business.

Mrs Beckett said: 'I believe that these partnership programmes with the private sector can make a real difference. Already, IT for All is providing some 2000 access sites across the country where the public can get first-hand experience of information and communications

technologies.

'I am determined to see that increase to over 4000 access sites, many

of them learning centres where the public can develop basic IT

skills, by the end of this year. This will make a real contribution

to tackling the uncertainty that many ordinary people feel when

faced with new technologies.

'Businesses also need objective advice and support, particularly

smaller firms. The local support centres that DTI is establishing

under the ISI Programme for Business can help these firms understand

the potential business benefits of new technologies and the

competitiveness benefits they can bring. There will be 80 centres

across the country by the end of this year so that all businesses

can have easy access to these important sources of help and advice.

This service will make a real contribution to meeting our ambitious

target of seeing a doubling in the number of small and medium sized

companies who are making effective use of new technologies by 2001.'

Notes

1. The full text of the statement 'Our Information Age' is

available on the Downing Street website, http://www.number-10.gov.uk The text is available in hard copy and summary versions by phoning DTI Publications Order Line on 0870 150 2500.

2. For more details on IT for All contact Philip Brady or

Philippa Haslegrave on 0171-631 3434. The IT for All public

response line is 0800 456567. For further information on the ISI

Programme for Business contact their Publicity Centre on 0171- 828

1593. The Infoline number for those interested in any of the ISI's

Programme for Business activities or literature is 0345 15 2000.

3. Members of the Information Age Partnership are: Margaret

Beckett, President of the Board of Trade; Barbara Roche, Minister

for Small Firms, Trade and Industry; John Birt, Director General

BBC; Mark Booth, Chief Executive BSkyB; Peter Bonfield, Chief

Executive BT; Graham Wallace, Chief Executive Cable & Wireless

Communications; Nigel Walmsley, Chairman Carlton Communications plc;

Cliff Stanford, Chief Executive Demon; EDS Ltd; Carl Symon, General

Manager UK IBM; Keith Todd, Chief Executive ICL; Keith Chapple,

Managing Director Intel Corporation (UK) Ltd; David Svendson,

Managing Director Microsoft Ltd; Peter Horne, President

Mitsubishi Electric; David Brown, Chairman Motorola Ltd; David Ball,

President Nortel; Marjorie Scardino, Chief Executive Pearson Plc;

Andrew Sadler-Smith, Chief Executive Novell; Philip Crawford, Senior

Vice President UK & Ireland Oracle Corporation; Gail Rebuck,

Chairman & Chief Executive Random House; Nigel Stapleton, Chairman

Reed Elsevier plc; Peter Job, Chief Executive Reuters Ltd; Chris

Gent, Chief Executive Vodafone Group plc; Anthony Parish, Director

General Federation of the Electronics Industry; Geoff Slyfield,

President of the Computing Services & Software Association &

Managing Director of Tangent International Ltd; Clive Bradley,

Confederation of Information & Communications Industries; Bill

Macintyre, DTI Head of Communications Information Industries (CII)

Directorate; David Baxter, DTI CII Project Director for the

Information Society Initiative; Mandy Mayer, DTI CII Deputy Director

for Industry Sponsorship.

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