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MPs highlight ‘critical need’ for technical and digital skills after Brexit

A report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has criticised the government for failing to adequately prepare for the process of Britain leaving the European Union, especially where it comes to ensuring that the right technical skills are in place.

The PAC said that there was ‘a particularly critical need for project management, technical and digital skills’. This is especially relevant with the technology sector being picked out at ‘crucial’ to the future of business after Brexit.

However, the government’s – particularly the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) and the Cabinet Office – plan for Brexit is not rigorous enough to identify and recruit people with the necessary skills to get the country ready for the separation.

Many government departments are having to delay projects in order to prepare for Brexit, with PAC deputy chairman Geoffrey Clifton-Brown saying, “The government has identified over 300 work streams to complete as a consequence of the UK’s departure from the EU – a byzantinely complicated task with the potential to become a damaging and unmanageable muddle.”

He added, “DExEU and the Cabinet Office accept the pace of work must accelerate, a point underlined by DExEU’s senior civil servant when he told us that there needs to be a ‘sharp focus on the world of the real’.

“That real world will not wait for the government to get its house in order.”

We have already seen evidence that the government has underestimated the amount of work that will go into Brexit: not only in data protection, but physical infrastructure as well  – which risks leaving the country’s borders exposed.

The PAC has recommended that the Cabinet Office work with individual departments and ‘act urgently’ to put workable plans in place to recruit tech-savvy staff.

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