In 2012 London’s tech industry was only just starting to bloom, and since then it has gone on to lead the capital’s economy. With the elections fast approaching, the next mayor should welcome the opportunity to work with the industry to make London a truly digital city.

A joint collaboration between Tech London Advocates, techUK and Centre for London has produced the London’s Digital Future: The Mayoral Technology Manifesto, which outlines a number of recommendations on how London’s next mayor can support the capital’s digital growth, skills and innovations.

Building a Talent Pipeline - Recommendations from the Manifesto

One of the key focuses in the Manifesto addresses talent, and how to equip Londoners with the digital skills needed to thrive.

Ask a London technology entrepreneur what keeps them awake at night, and a shortage of available talent will often be the answer. Tech developments and industries are creating jobs faster than we can fill them.

The Manifesto suggests London faces a dual challenge in ensuring a skilled talent pipeline - recruiting from outside the EU and nurturing homegrown talent.

Firstly, hiring non-EU talent is a major hurdle for digital businesses, with a challenging visa process that has been well documented. Whilst changes have been welcomed, there is still more to be considered for companies to avoid potential stumbling blocks.

In many cases the best data science and cyber security talent can be found outside the EU, and until individuals in the UK with these skills are on a similar level, it’s essential for businesses to have these migrants to grow the technology sector.

Secondly, in order to develop digital talent, bridges need to be built between businesses and learning providers. Skills training and digital courses should be provided through existing local, private and third sector networks to train and upskill those already in the workforce.

According to a study by Deloitte, digital skills, including SEO and programming, now have a half-life of around two and half years due to the increasing pace of technological advancement. As a result, a number of jobs and digital skills that perhaps didn’t exist 10 or 15 years ago have emerged. Skills such as; community management, UX design and Data Science have continued to grow in importance over the years, and are now seen as essential for businesses to gain a competitive edge.

New York have sought to develop a talent pipeline through engagement with companies like Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Goldman Sachs, and London should look to key partners, organisations and companies to provide digital training and job opportunities.

In addition, it’s important to build upon the £5m Digital Skills fund and recognise that developing digital talent is not only an issue for the tech sector but for all industries across London and the wider UK.

What lies ahead?

London’s vision by 2020 is to become a city where the strength of the technology ecosystem attracts the best talent globally and digital skills flourish. A talent magnet not only for innovators from around the world, London will seek to develop a significant pool of homegrown digital talent with a diverse range of digital specialisms.

Policy Recommendations

  1. Conduct an innovation audit
  2. Full digital inclusion
  3. World class cyber security
  4. Plan ahead for broadband
  5. From notspots to hotspots
  6. Shore up the supply of commercial space
  7. Take the London message global
  8. Prioritise investment incentives
  9. Build a tech pipeline
  10. Champion digital apprenticeships
  11. Be bold on visas
  12. Hire a London Digital Officer
  13. Create an open data charter

Find out more from the Mayoral Tech Manifesto 2016.