The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has unveiled a £7m programme to arm young Londoners with the skills they need to access jobs in the capital’s digital, technology and creative industries.
The Mayor’s Digital Talent Programme will have a particular focus on boosting the proportion of women in the industry, which currently stands at just 17 per cent. It will also work to increase black, Asian and minority ethnic Londoners and those from disadvantaged communities who are employed in these crucial sectors of the capital’s economy.
The Programme aims to establish a ‘tech talent pipeline’. This will follow the model developed by the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, with more young people enabled and encouraged to gain key digital skills, and more apprenticeships created in the sector.
London is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading technology hubs and it is estimated that the sector will contribute £18bn to London’s economy this year. In November 2016 the capital was crowned the best EU city for digital entrepreneurs for the second year in a row, and Google, Facebook and Apple have recently announced plans to expand in London.
There are now around 40,000 tech businesses in London, employing almost 200,000 people, 3.5 per cent of the capital’s total workforce.
However, despite this success, the mayor says there is a growing gap between the skills young Londoners have and those that digital and technology businesses in the capital need if they are to continue to thrive. The Mayor is keen to plug this gap to ensure young Londoners are taught the digital skills they need to access well-paid jobs while companies are able to recruit local talent.
The Mayor’s Digital Talent Programme will invest £5m from the London Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and £2m from the European Social Fund.
The programme will help Londoners access tech jobs by offering work placements, creating tailored learning opportunities, assisting university students and helping businesses to access the skills they need.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I promised to be the most pro-business Mayor London has ever seen – and now I’m delivering on that promise. Our vibrant tech sector is globally renowned and the city is awash with thousands of tech innovators and entrepreneurs who are developing the latest apps and software and delivering economic prosperity for the city. However, 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.
“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.”
Kathryn Parsons, Co-Founder & CEO of London technology education company DeCoded and a member of the Mayor’s new Business Advisory Board said: “There is a global war for talent taking place. Businesses are desperately seeking coders, data scientists, cyber security skills but also creative thinkers, problem solvers and communicators. We need to reimagine what education looks like.
“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.”