Sir Clive Sinclair has lashed out at what he sees as the UK government’s lack of investment in IT, blaming insufficient spend and focus for the country’s global position as a technology leader.
Speaking exclusively to Computing, Sir Clive lamented under-representation of IT in government going as far back as the beginning of the home computing industry in the early 1980s.
“Unfortunately, our government has never devoted anything like sufficient money and other resources to IT, with the result that countries such as Singapore, Korea, Japan and China are probably the world leaders today, and of course India has many millions of coders and IT specialists who market their skills widely on the internet,” Sir Clive told Computing.
With one in four firms now recruiting IT talent from overseas, Computing asked Sir Clive what he sees as a reasonable solution to solving the skills gap in UK IT. He believes a possible reason for the country’s on-going skills shortage is the “ludicrous situation” with regard to the dearth of scientists at high levels of government.
“We never seem to have any scientists in the cabinet,” said Sir Clive.
“The last time I checked – during the coalition government – there wasn’t a single science graduate in the cabinet. I don’t know if that’s still the case today but it wouldn’t surprise me.
“How can our country hope to capitalise on the scientific and technological skills of our people if there aren’t a goodly number of scientists at cabinet level? In an era when science and technology are so terribly important, it’s a ludicrous situation.”
In terms of opportunities for manufacture of innovative new products, like the inventor’s early ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum home computing machines, Sir Clive believes that the game has become “both easier and harder” since his day:
“Easier, because the cost of taking a product to manufacture has come down, relatively speaking, with the help of technologies such as 3D printing,” he asserted. “But harder because there are so many new products being launched each year that the competition is much stiffer than it was in the 80s.”