Since our 2018 Beyond the Cloud survey, Serviceteam IT have been interested in exploring the apparent skills shortage. We have written many blogs about the gloom UK organisations have faced in terms of tech industry employment. With Brexit, this has been heightened. But it appears that it is not all doom and gloom.
Tech London Advocates (a part of the private sector network) has been supported by hundreds of London’s tech giants with the aim of creating a million tech jobs in the city over the next 5 years.
What exactly is the pledge?
The pledge (currently with more than 200 signatories) is dedicated to grow the London tech scheme. In addition, an aim is to tackle diversity in the industry. This growth in employment will be through hiring more tech-focused employees over the five-year period.
The Diversity Problem
There are many groups which are not currently seen in the tech sector. This includes (but is not restricted to) women, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities and the LGBTQ+ community.
Recently I have read a lot of blogs which focus on the lack of women in the area. The issue of women in tech seems to have really come to the forefront. One of the most shocking statistics is that more than a third of women are deterred by the lack of diversity in the tech sector.
This begs the question whether the rate of social change is matching at the rate of technology progress.
The pledge challenges signatories to remove barriers into the industry which could perpetuate the gender imbalance and introduce an inclusive environment for underrepresented groups.
Problems which need to be solved
“Talent is the most pressing issue faced by digital businesses – both big and small – and only through joint action can we make a lasting difference. The tech sector is one of Britain’s stand out industries, and by strengthening its foundations, we can sustain its growth and keep Britain at the forefront of global innovation.” said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates.
Interestingly, our ‘Beyond the Cloud’ report found to increase employment in the tech sector, more needed to be done in terms of education and recruitment. Therefore, a solution to lessening services could be collaboration with other industries, government and education providers.
Who are the ‘tech giants’?
The signatories include technology firms such as:
- Microsoft UK
- BT Consumer
Additionally, well-known names include:
- Joanna Shields, chairperson of BenevolentAI
- Kathryn Parsons, founder of Decoded
- Jacqueline de Rojas, president of techUK.
- Amali de Alwis, CEO of Code First Girls
The fact that three women are pointed out as well-known names in the press is reassuring considering the pledge’s aims.
Is this achievable?
It was calculated that a new job will have to be created every three minutes to create one million filled tech roles in London by 2023.
However, there are currently only 318,480 people in tech employment in the capital.
In terms of reforming the education system, the computing curriculum developed in 2014 has been criticised for not enhancing UK talent, especially after Brexit concerns.
Pat Saini, immigration lawyer at Penningtons Manches, said: “A key part of future-proofing the UK’s tech sector and maintaining a strong talent pool is immigration.”
Therefore, whether education systems can be relied upon to reduce barriers to tech whilst promoting the sector seems unlikely.
It may seem like I am being overly critical of the pledge.
Rather, my aim was to highlight the barriers to promoting a proposal as idealistic as this one. However, the goal is to achieve a positive result in the private sector. As the government are concerned with Brexit, it is reassuring that organisations are paving the way to change in the best way they can without legislation.