Substantive reform to education needed to address the skills gap blighting fintechs

In a blog post earlier this week I got feedback from a number of finetchs about comments made by Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky about the need for a special visa for skilled workers post Brexit.

Something has to be done as attracting talent, which is one of the biggest challenges facing fintechs in any country, could become a lot more challenging after Brexit.

For example, according to one fintech I contacted skilled EU workers are already looking elsewhere to build their careers. Furthermore professionals from EU that are already in the UK are considering their futures.

I was also told by some fintechs that it is the tech part of fintech where the skills shortages in the UK are most prominant. Areas like data science and artificial intelligence are examples.

I have since received more comment on the subject, so wanted to share it. So on the subject of the tech within fintech one company that finds itself in that category is financial API provider TrueLayer.

Shefali Roy, chief operating officer at the fintech,said there really isn’t a single policy that will solve the skills gap. “Ideas like tech visas may help in the short term, however, we need more substantive reform to education and training to create a greater depth of homegrown talent.”

She said the education system can’t keep up with the changing needs of the tech industry. “For example, there is currently a huge demand for data scientists, however, it will take many years for a new crop to go through our universities to meet this demand.”

She said even when there are enough people to fill these gaps there will be a new sector crying out for a different set of skills, so education and training institutions need to get better at anticipating future demand.

“They need to get more people into STEM subjects and create courses that have broader skill sets that will make people more adaptable. On a more fundamental level, young people need much better careers advice so they can understand the opportunities within the tech sector.”

But she added that the skills challenge is not new but Brexit has added uncertainty which makes recruitment more difficult now.

“The tech skills gap has been an issue for as long as there has been a startup scene in the UK. Indeed, it is a problem that nearly every tech hub in the world is dealing with.

“The biggest difficulty at the moment is uncertainty. While we know London is always going to be one of Europe’s leading tech centres – whatever the firmness of the Brexit deal – it is naturally difficult for people to make long term career decisions without knowing exactly what is going to happen,” she said.  “As a result, I think recruitment is probably harder now than it will be after Brexit.”

But she added that the tech industry, more than any other sector, is built on the ability to adapt to changing conditions and trends. “If there is a further shrinking of the talent pool post-Brexit, we will adapt our approach to ensure we can continue our rapid growth.”

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