This is a guest blog by Barrie Hadfield, CTO of Workshare and London First board member.
The UK tech sector continues to enjoy its greatest year of growth yet, becoming known as the ‘silver economy’ by many investors. With this success comes endless career opportunities for highly skilled graduates and new entrants wanting to enter the world of tech.
Yet filling such positions has become a major business challenge. Research by the Confederation of British Industry and KPMG revealed that nearly half of London businesses (45%) believe the capital is experiencing a skills shortage, and that two thirds (66%) find it difficult to recruit highly skilled workers, with IT and technology roles being the most difficult to fill.
In response to this, TechUK, the trade association for the UK’s technology industry, recently published a manifesto calling on the Government to foster domestic technology skills to safeguard the country’s digital economy, and secure one million IT jobs over the next five years.
As well as the Government, London’s technology firms have a responsibility to entice young talent to the sector, by making it more appealing and accessible to the graduate workforce. Together with key influencers in the sector, we need to work to attract more talent to the capital by promoting the promising career opportunities that working in IT and tech can offer.
Despite the IT skills shortage, London is still one of the best places in the world to do business and for graduates to start their careers. And for this reason, we continue to see major companies and startups flood the capital’s Tech City area, including Google and Apple. According to Bloomberg, London now has more jobs in financial technology than New York (44,000 versus 43,000), and because of Tech City’s proximity to the city, fintech startups are blooming.
The economic success of London’s Tech City has been instrumental in attracting investment to the capital. This has led to increasing internship opportunities within the sector and it is becoming one of the best-paid industries for interns to work in today. It’s also renowned for being one of the most diverse sectors, with a multitude of different skills coming together from software engineering, marketing, design and fashion.
As a tech evangelist, it’s great to see the significant impact the tech sector is having on the capital. Having just been appointed to the board of London First, a not-for-profit organisation promoting London as a business destination, I’m the first representative to join from Tech City. The IT skills shortage in London is an issue high on the agenda and one that we are keen to address together.
London First will be raising awareness of the tech sector and IT skills at Skills London 2014, the capital’s biggest jobs and careers event for young people from 21-22 November. The event will provide tech organisations and influencers with the perfect opportunity to showcase London’s vibrant technology scene. The event will attract over 30,000 young people, parents and teachers and will provide young jobseekers with a better understanding of the careers available to them, as well as offering advice on how to gain technology and IT experience.
It is paramount that London’s leading businesses recognise the opportunity Skills London presents, and participate in what is going to be a milestone event for the capital’s tech sector.