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London mayor launches £7m digital talent programme

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announces plans for a skills programme to help young people get into digital and tech careers

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a £7m Digital Talent Programme to help young Londoners get into digital, technology and creative industry careers.

The scheme will focus especially on getting women, minorities and people from disadvantaged communities into the industry.

Some £5m of the investment in the programme will come from the London Enterprise Partnership, with the remaining £2m coming from the European Social Fund.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the city’s “vibrant tech sector” is delivering prosperity, but that there is still a skills gap that needs addressing. 

“It is vital that we nurture the next generation of digital enthusiasts so we can continue to provide our tech firms with home-grown talent,” said Khan.

“Our new scheme will help to ensure that this crucial sector continues to go from strength to strength. It will also look to address the factors that are often preventing young women, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and our more deprived communities from accessing tech jobs and ensure there is a level playing field when it comes to being a part of this hugely exciting part of our economy.”

The talent programme will offer work placements, create “tailored learning opportunities” and assist 500 university students gain skills and work experience.

It will also help 400 startups and small businesses access the right skills to support growth, as well as assist 400 schools and teachers to improve digital skills learning and qualifications. 

Read more about digital skills shortages

The tech sector will contribute around £18bn to the London economy this year. However, at the same time, the digital skills gap is costing the UK economy £63bn, according to the Digital skills crisis report

Kathryn Parsons, co-founder and CEO of tech education company DeCoded, said there is a “global war” for the right skills and talent.

“Businesses are desperately seeking coders, data scientists and cyber security skills, but also creative thinkers, problem solvers and communicators. We need to reimagine what education looks like,” said Parsons.

“I am excited to see real investment into developing the next generation of talent in London. I believe that the UK can become the best place in the world for technology education.

“You won’t find technology talent, the next generation of superstars, mavericks and creators, where you expect to find them. It is vital that we make it for everyone,” she added.

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