The UK’s digital revolution is happening now, with London at its epicenter. As mayor, one of Sadiq Khan’s top priorities will be ensuring London’s workforce can meet this immediate demand, or risk seeing money for digital skills drain out of the economy.
While the UK’s digital tech industries are growing significantly faster than the rest of the UK economy – the increasing demand for skilled IT professionals, combined with a retiring baby boomer generation, has resulted in a skills gap that is becoming a major issue in the UK’s digital transformation. There is no question that we need to develop the skills of future generations to align with future digital demand. However, focusing on formal qualifications, which the Government often does, won’t do much for the digital economy in the next year or two. Providing incentives for employers to offer on-the-job training would do much more to correct the skills gap now.
Fortunately, Khan has recognised the issue saying, during the elections, that ‘being a mayor for all Londoners means being a mayor for tech.’ He has also promised to create a new ‘Skills for Londoners’ taskforce, based on Bill de Blasio‘s ‘Jobs for New Yorkers’ taskforce. The objective of this taskforce is to develop a city-wide, strategic approach to skills and identify gaps in provision. He intends commission a variety of high quality training programmes to create a pipeline of skilled London workers to make the most of the opportunities in London’s growth sectors.
Khan’s commitment to closing London’s skill gap is commendable, and essential for digital transformation. What businesses need Khan to do now is to follow through on his commitments. Both the Government and businesses need to be investing in training and development programmes which can channel UK talent into those job opportunities that remain vacant and Khan needs to be driving this point home.”