UK's IT skills base gets the thumbs-up - government please take note

As the Olympic Games finally opens in London this week, there are 300 or so highly skilled IT experts about to be out of a job. Thanks to some of the leading lights of the new technology economy, they might not have far to look for a new employer.

Those 300 IT experts, currently employed in the IT department of London 2012 organiser Locog, will of course be rather busy over the next few weeks, part of a 5,000-strong technology team that includes 2,500 volunteers plus staff from the key Games IT suppliers, such as Atos, BT, Samsung, Acer and Cisco.

Perhaps Amazon and Facebook should give them a call – the two US giants both announced major investments in London this week.

The social media firm is opening its first software engineering centre outside the US in London – a major coup for the UK’s IT skills base. “London is a perfect fit for Facebook engineering — it’s a global hub, and it has a vibrant local start-up community with lots of great technical talent,” said Philip Su, who will head up the London team.

The Facebook centre will initially create 22 jobs, but the numbers will grow quickly.

Amazon, meanwhile, is opening an eight-floor development centre, a move described as “a splendid feather in our cap” by London major Boris Johnson.

“London is a hotbed of tech talent, and testament to that fact is Amazon choosing the capital as the location for its new global digital media development centre,” said the site’s managing director, Paula Byrne.

But Amazon and Facebook may find recruitment competition closer to the Olympics home, as news emerged that the media centre in the Olympic Park will be turned into a datacentre and digital incubator after the Games, exploiting the 600km of fibre and copper cabling installed in the building. The winning bidder – iCity, a subsidiary of UK datacentre operator Infinity – will create as many as 6,600 jobs.

Elsewhere, the UK’s recession has deepened, with the latest GDP figures showing a further 0.7% contraction in the economy.

Given all these developments, if you were a government in desperate need of private sector growth, what industry sector and which in-demand professional skills would you invest in?


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