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Mayor of London launches tech fund for digital skills

A programme has been launched by the mayor of London to ensure young people in the capital are learning digital skills

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has launched a programme to ensure young people in the capital are taught the digital skills they’ll need to help the city's technology sector in the future.

Dubbed the Digital Talent Programme, a fund of £5m has been put aside by the mayor to invest in collaboration between businesses and colleges to inspire younger people to take jobs in the IT industry, and give companies access to young people with the appropriate skills.

The programme was launched due to the growing IT skills gap, which is seeing employers in London’s IT industry claiming they need more talented applicants if the sector and the city is to continue to grow at its current pace.

“London is a hotbed of top technological innovation, brimming with creative minds who are helping to boost the capital’s economy and that of the whole country. However, it is absolutely vital that we nurture our tech stars of the future and make sure our deep reserves of talent do not run dry,” said Johnson.

“This new scheme will help London to remain ahead of the game when it comes to tech and give thousands of young Londoners the chance to share in the city’s economic success.”

London has been seen as a global hub of the technology sector for some time, and earlier this year it was predicted that the capital will boost its economy by £18bn in 2015.

The Digital Talent Programme, which was launched in partnership with the London Enterprise Panel (LEP), will work with the technology sector to provide Londoners between the ages of 14 and 24 with digital skills that will then lead to jobs in the future.

The programme will look to establish a “London digital talent pipeline” to define what skills are needed to fill the current job openings, and collaborate with schools and colleges to ensure the curriculum meets those needs.

By doing this, it aims to help up to 1,000 young people in London to be placed in a digital job, and help university students from minority groups to gain higher level digital skills.

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The programme will also work towards providing more places in further education colleges, to ensure more 16-year-olds can go on to study courses designed specifically to provide digital skills that will lead to a job. It will do this by creating five new digital learning hubs across London with the facilities needed to provide these courses.

Teachers, parents and children will also be made more aware of the possible routes into digital careers, and the programme will launch an awareness campaign to ensure people know what skills are needed for digital jobs.

Alongside this initiative, £50,000 will be invested by Johnson and the LEP to run a digital careers roadshow across London in areas including Barking and Dagenham, Enfield, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Ealing, to further raise awareness of digital careers.

Tech mentors will be trained and allocated across London job centres to ensure potential recruits for digital and technology careers are properly employed.

In 2014, the new computing curriculum was launched across the country to ensure that children are taught essential computer science skills from the age of five to 16, and Johnson invested more than £1.5m in computing in schools across London as part of the London Schools Excellence Fund.

But many teachers are still unsure how to teach the new curriculum due to lack of skills and training themselves. The LEP has invested in a computing curriculum guide to help properly deliver lessons. 

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