Election 2010: Superfast broadband shouldn't be politicians' top priority say CIOs

CIO Jury: IT chiefs reveal which tech issues politicians need to focus on

With Prime Minister Gordon Brown today confirming the general election will take place on 6 May, what technology issues should politicians focus on if they want to get the techie vote?

While the political parties' pledges to boost superfast broadband coverage have been grabbing the headlines of late, the UK's tech leaders feel politicians should be making other technology issues - such as boosting skills and innovation - their priority.

The latest silicon.com CIO Jury asked if extending high-speed broadband provision in the UK should be the biggest technology issue for politicians to focus on. The overwhelming response from the jury of IT chiefs was no, with 10 of the 12 CIO Jury respondents saying superfast broadband should not be MPs' top tech concern.

Alastair Behenna, CIO at Harvey Nash, said that although extending high-speed broadband is important, a commitment to retaining and growing technology skills in the UK is more so.

However, he added: "A bit of significant action on any of the issues... rather than just empty electioneering promises would be a rare and marvellous thing."

Nicholas Bellenberg, CIO at publisher Hachette Filipacchi, agreed that skills are paramount, saying the biggest priority should be to overhaul the way in which tech skills are taught to young people between the ages of 11 and 21.

Houses of Parliament, Westminster

CIOs feel politicians should focus on skills and innovation rather than broadband in the run up to the general election
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

"My kids have been using Macs and PCs at home and at school since about age four so they have good general user skills but little idea of what technology can be used for to build systems to help solve (business) problems," he said.

Bellenberg added that if broadband for all is going to provide real benefits, upload speeds need to addressed - along with download speeds - in order to serve the needs of business users working at home.

Mike Tonkiss, IT director of postage equipment supplier Neopost, said providing support for the innovative use of IT would bring greater benefits for the UK as it would "provide greater return on investment by reducing costs and making UK industry more competitive".

Jacques René, CIO at aviation industry consultancy Ascend, agreed that encouraging innovation should be the top priority.

However, skills and innovation aren't the only areas which the CIOs felt should take precedence over delivering high-speed broadband.

Ibukun Adebayo, director of information technology for social care organisation Turning Point, said "reducing wastage in the delivery of IT programmes and...