The Government has announced plans to train millions of people, charities and businesses with help from the private sector by 2020.

In announcing its digital strategy, it also pledged to create five international technology hubs in emerging markets which will aim to develop partnerships between UK and foreign companies.

And a Government-backed FinTech competition will also look to increase innovation and development of technologies in the financial sector.

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said: "The UK's world-leading digital sectors are a major driver of growth and productivity, and we are determined to protect and strengthen them.

"This digital strategy sets a path to make Britain the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research as part of the Government's plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation.

“To do that, we will work closely with businesses and others to make sure the benefits and opportunities are spread across the country so nobody is left behind.

“There should be no digital divide – every individual and every business should have the skills and confidence to make the most of digital technology and have easy access to high-quality internet wherever they live, work, travel or learn.”

Last June’s report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee found that the UK's digital skills gap costs the economy £63 billion a year, with up to 12.6 million adults lacking basic digital skills.

Free digital training for adults and businesses will be made available with the help of Lloyds Banking Group, while Barclays has pledged to teach coding to 45,000 children and digital skills to one million people.

Ed Macnair, CEO at security firm CensorNet, reflected: “The Government's pledge to teach cyber awareness to one million is certainly the most pressing initiative.

“Britain's economy relies predominantly on digital infrastructure, which is an obvious strength but also a weakness when faced with threats from hackers and - more importantly - insider threats.

“Many people of all ages still lack basic cyber security hygiene, and so - rather than reserving cyber awareness for a select few - more must be done to remind individuals and businesses alike that, through cyber ignorance, their desk neighbour could pose as much of a threat than a clandestine hooded hacker.”

Lucy Dimes, CEO, Fujitsu UK & Ireland, said: “The Government’s digital strategy is an exciting and welcome prospect at a time when UK businesses are facing a significant threat from digital disruption… 44% of UK organisations believe they will not exist in their current form by 2021, according to our recent research.

“To gain a competitive advantage, businesses should consider how they can use new technologies like artificial intelligence, even at this relatively early stage.

“Government investment is helpful, but companies should also draw on the excellent network of expertise available in the UK.”

Google, meanwhile, will launch a summer programme aimed at boosting tourism and growth in coastal towns.

The Government also plans to create two forums: one to connect directly with the tech community and the other to help businesses gain access to fast broadband.

Tech City UK chief executive Gerard Grech said: "The UK's tech sector is rapidly becoming a global force to reckon with, but we must ensure that we stay ahead by continuing to provide a supportive environment for British start-ups and digital companies to grow in, especially since other countries are trying to take advantage of our departure from the European Union."

BELOW: Flick through the Q1 2017 edition of BusinessCloud's interactive digital magazine

E-edition cover