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Post-Brexit immigration challenges sees London drop in tech ranking

Forrester’s latest research of the top European cities for technology clusters, has seen London sliding down the rankings

In its Navigating the leading skill clusters across Europe report, analyst firm Forrester ranked 50 cities to help tech and business leaders establish where to source the skills needed for the future.

Given that digital transformation efforts, an aging population, increasing automation and continued pandemic-related disruptions have created a skills gap in Europe, Forrester urged  European businesses to focus on building digital and technology prowess, critical thinking and resilience.

Looking at digital skills in the UK, Forrester found that post-Brexit regulatory hurdles are preventing UK-based cities from being ranked as a leading skill cluster in Europe. According to Forrester, the top 10 metropolitan areas with the best skills and talent clusters across Europe are Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Hamburg, Oslo, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, and Amsterdam.

In the report, the analysts at Forrester noted that these metropolitan areas are globally integrated, home to innovative businesses, and have a digitally advanced infrastructure to attract and accommodate the concentration of skills and talents of the future.

However, London, which is often known as Europe’s tech hub, was ranked 19th – largely due to stringent immigration rules post-Brexit. Forrester noted that post-Brexit, the movement of labour in the UK is restricted, resulting in London, Manchester, and Birmingham sliding in rankings.

The Forrester report states that the most important talent pool includes data engineers, experts in agile and DevOps, tech architects, cyber security consultants, human scientists and designers.

The report’s authors pointed out that European businesses increasingly understand the need to attract individuals with specific sector expertise as well as soft skills. “Leading businesses place diversity, partner ecosystems and innovation centres at the heart of their talent management strategies,” they wrote.

Forrester recommended that business and IT leaders need to understand where the top skill clusters are located in Europe as a first step to attract and retain the best talent and to source the right skills needed for the future of work.

In a blog post looking at the report, Forrester principal analyst Dan Beiler discussed why building the right skills base needs involvement across employers, educational institutions, research organisations, chambers of commerce, employment agencies, and local, regional and national governments, as well as stakeholders from social partners and civil society.

“The focus on green and digital revolution coupled with the socio-economic changes have created a noticeable skills gap in Europe, which can be debilitating for business growth,” said Bieler.

“To prepare for the future of work, European businesses need to hire talent adept at both technical and soft skills. The Nordics region is teeming with precisely this kind of talent. Recruiting talent from emerging hubs like the Nordics will allow European businesses to accelerate digital transformation efforts and drive long-term business growth.”

Bieler believes that business leaders and employees must be prepared to accept a career pivot, which requires an established process for sustainable skill transformation.

Read more skills stories

  • A study from IBM has found there is less focus on training software engineers in the UK compared with Spain and Germany.
  • An Open Data Institute report on data literacy and UK government data strategy sees a lack of clarity in definition, fragmentation of responsibility, and a disconnect between government and citizens.

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