Chris questions the Government on its response to the fourth industrial revolution

Today (15th November 2017) Chris asked the Government what cross-Whitehall work they are undertaking to maximize opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution; particularly in terms of digital skills, artificial intelligence, machine learning and distributed ledger technology.

The question was intentionally broad and included a range of technologies and priorities as Chris hoped to highlight that the Government must grasp the ‘everythingness’ of this new technology.

As Chris wrote in Politics Home: “the 4IR is already well underway and it will make the first industrial revolution sound a mild murmur by comparison… There is no separate world of digital. It won’t be possible to focus on, for example, health, education or defence and leave others to “do the digital”.  Crucially, the 4IR is inevitable, not optional and whilst I welcome the inclusion of digital in DCMS I seek reassurance that the scale of the challenge and the necessity for a cross-governmental approach is understood and acted upon.

The technology may be complex – who really knows what goes on inside the black box at Deep Mind or appreciates the finer details of the cryptograph hash function of Bitcoin. But this is not about the tech per se it is about the potential, the solutions which can be realized and what will be required from Government, from all of us, for such realization to become reality.”

 

Overwhelming public support for unpaid internships ban

An overwhelming majority of the British public support Chris’s private members bill which would introduce a legal ban on unpaid internships lasting four weeks or more. New polling data, released by the Social Mobility Commission today (Monday 23rd October), has found that 72 per cent of the public back a change in the law – with 42 per cent ‘strongly supporting’ a ban.

The YouGov polling of nearly 5,000 people has been released ahead of the second reading of Chris’s private members bill in the House of Lords this Friday (October 27th) which proposes a ban on unpaid work experience or internships lasting more than four weeks.

The survey also reveals that 80 per cent of people want companies to be required to openly advertise internships and work experience opportunities, rather than organise them informally.

The Social Mobility Commission, a Government-sponsored independent body which monitors progress towards improving social mobility, has repeatedly called for a ban in its successive State of the Nation reports to parliament.

A broad consensus of support for a ban has emerged in recent years, including:

· The All Party Parliament Group into Social Mobility has called for a ban on unpaid internships over 4 weeks after hearing evidence on barriers to social mobility.

· In April, the Institute for Public Policy Research published a report which provided new evidence that internships have increased to around 70,000 a year and also recommended a ban after 4 weeks. Many times this number – up to half – are locked out of these opportunities because they are unpaid and/or restricted to networks.

· Leading businesses and trade bodies support a four week limit. The Institute of Student Employers, Arts Council,

UK Music, Creative Skillset, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Business in the Community, Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion and Trust for London all oppose long term unpaid internships.

· The Matthew Taylor review into employment practices recently concluded: “It is clear to us that unpaid internships are an abuse of power by employers and extremely damaging to social mobility.”

· A four week limit is supported by two-thirds of businesses, with only one-in-eight opposing the legislation (YouGov 2014).

The Rt Hon Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said: “Unpaid internships are a modern scandal which must end. Internships are the new rung on the career ladder. They have become a route to a good professional job. But access to them tends to depend on who not what you know and young people from low income backgrounds are excluded because they are unpaid.

They miss out on a great career opportunity and employers miss out from a wider pool of talent. Unpaid internships are damaging for social mobility. It is time to consign them to history.”

Chris welcomed the findings saying: “I’m delighted that the vast majority of the public support this straightforward and sensible change to the law. Unpaid internships leave young people in a Catch 22 situation; unable to get a job because they haven’t got experience and unable to get experience because they can’t afford to work for free. The practice is clearly discriminatory, crushes creativity and competitiveness and holds individuals and our country back. It’s time we consigned them to the past, to the novels of Dickens.” #payinterns

Lord Holmes: Calling time on the scandal of unpaid internships, Politics Home

Public ‘backs ban on long unpaid internships’, BBC News

Public backs ban on long-term unpaid internships, study finds, Guardian

A modern scandal which must end” – the group calling for 4-week unpaid internships to be banned for good, Mirror

Majority back ban on unpaid work experience and internships, The Times

If you really care about social mobility, you won’t support paying interns, Independent

Social Mobility Commission: Vast Majority Of Public Would Support Ban On Unpaid Internships, Huffington Post

Unpaid internships are damaging to social mobility, FE News

BBC Radio 4 Today

BBC Breakfast 

Chris awarded Honorary Degree by the University of Wolverhampton

Chris is delighted to join an impressive list of individuals receiving honorary degrees from the University of Wolverhampton. The University awards honorary degrees to people who have made a significant contribution to their field of expertise. Chris will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geoff Layer, said: “Each year the University of Wolverhampton awards honorary degrees to people who have made a significant contribution to their area of expertise. As people who have achieved notable success in their chosen field, they provide inspiration for our students, graduates and staff.

“We are proud to recognise the achievements of people across a broad range of specialisms, and look forward to welcoming them all to our graduation ceremonies in September.”

University announces honours list

GDI hosts Disability Innovation Summit

The Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), which Chris chairs, hosted a two day Disability Innovation Summit on 13th and 14th July 2017.
Chris standing in front of banner with Global Disability Innovation Hub logo
The GDI Hub is London’s new global research centre bringing together thought leaders and practitioners, from many disciplines, with knowledge and experience of design and disability. Through collaboration, technology, partnerships and study GDI’s mission is to improve the lives of disabled people worldwide.

Based in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, the GDI Hub is part of the 2012 Paralympic legacy programme. Over two days (13th and 14th July) linked to the World Para Championships, the Disability Innovation Summit, provided an opportunity to bring together disabled and non-disabled experts from around the world to share expertise and ideas to inspire and shape the future of disability innovation.

Technology is shifting the disability landscape. Advances in prosthetics, wheelchairs, wearable tech and bionics are changing the lives of disabled people and the potential is huge. The summit aimed to nurture and encourage those working at the forefront of engineering, computing, robotics, sport and art to come together, share knowledge and push the boundaries of design.

The summit included keynote speeches, workshops and panel discussions:

  • The latest technologies and research
  • Disability dance, fashion and art
  • Global projects and innovations
  • Assistive technology
  • Built environment and inclusive design
  • Sport and community
  • Workplace and employment

Disability Innovation Summit

Fintech for Financial Inclusion

On Thursday (6th July) Chris tabled a debate in the House of Lords about what role financial technologies (fintech) can play in promoting financial inclusion. Specifically he asked “Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to promote financial inclusion through the use of innovative financial solutions and new technology, including open access to payment infrastructure, smart phone applications and distributed ledger technology.” During his speech he explained why he was interested in both fintech and inclusion and called on the Government to commit to various actions.

“Why am I interested in fintech? I am interested because it is innovative and disruptive and has the potential to address some of the issues that have dogged our society for decades, not least the inability for SMEs to have consistent and timely lines of credit. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that so many hundreds of thousands, nay, millions, of our fellow citizens have been effectively locked out by being underbanked or unbanked. There has been no real sense that pressure has been put on, or desire felt by, the major financial institutions to lend to SMEs or address questions around the underbanked and unbanked of our society.

Why am I interested in inclusion? This goes right back to the beginning for me. It seems extraordinary that everybody would not be interested in how we enable and empower every single member of our society to play their part and to be fulfilled in whatever field they want. Financial inclusion is critical to this. When we set it alongside digital inclusion, we have two of the most significant building blocks that have to be so well set if we are going to address some of the most significant issues facing citizens in Britain right now.”

Chris went on to ask the Government to look at regulation and funding; by increasing the responsibilities of the Financial Conduct Authority and giving a specific responsibility for financial inclusion. He also asked if the Government would commit to at least equaling the support that the European Investment Bank has given for fintech once we leave the European Union. Chris also highlighted the incredible potential of some initiatives for distributing benefits the Department of Work and Pensions have been looking at. “We have had some great proofs of concept, but we need this to get to scale and then we will truly see the impact and the difference that fintech can make in terms of financial inclusion.” In summing up Chris called on industry and Government to work together to ensure that fintech continues to thrive, continues to deliver and continues to be a great British enabler and a great British export, through and long beyond Brexit.

Read full text here.

Politics Home, Lord Holmes: Inclusive and well funded Fintech sector would be transformational for most vulnerable communities

Financial Inclusion Commission, Lord Holmes: Fin, Tech the Opportunity

Chris goes behind the scenes at Inmarsat to learn about global mobile satellite communications

Today  (Thursday 6 July) Chris visited Inmarsat as part of his Industry and Parliament (IPT) Fellowship focusing on digital technology and innovation. This particular visit has enabled him to gain insight into how innovation and applications of new technology affect a range of sectors.

The UK Satellite operator Inmarsat is the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, delivering reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organisations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat owns and operates a fleet of thirteen geostationary telecommunications satellites, including four Global Xpress (GX) spacecraft, which together form the world’s first, globally available high-speed broadband service, based upon a $1.6bn investment by Inmarsat, . The visit took place at Inmarsat’s Old Street roundabout HQ.

During the visit Chris met with key members of Inmarsat including CEO Rupert Pearce who gave him an overview of Inmarsat, in particular highlighting the different channels and strategy behind the technology transition. With more than half of all mobile connections around the world now being ‘broadband’, it is becoming increasingly more important to have strong communications systems in place. Lord Holmes was able to gain insight into Inmarsat’s plethora of services, which cover a broad range of sectors including maritime, aviation, governments, first responders, Internet of Things (IoT) and a wide variety of other commercial enterprises.

A key highlight of the visit was a tour of the facilities which included the Network Operations Centre and Satellite Control Centre, where Chris saw how Inmarsat proactively manages its global data and voice services and met the team that ‘fly’ the company’s satellites.

 

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