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Mayor launches £7m scheme to unearth London’s digital talent

PROGRESS: Sadiq Khan (Photo credit: PA)

THE MAYOR of London, Sadiq Khan launched a new initiative this week to find and develop the next generation of home-grown tech talent to meet a growing digital skills shortage in the capital.

The scheme, to launch at Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in London, aims to inspire young people to join London’s booming digital, tech and creative industries and tackle the under-representation of women and BAME (Black Asian & Minority Ethnic) Londoners in the sector.

At the launch, a free creative careers event was curated by ERIC Festival and young Londoners looking to embark on a career in the digital and tech field had the opportunity to meet and network with a variety of leading businesses – including Google, Amazon and Bloomberg – as well as free training workshops funded through the Mayor’s scheme.

As a step towards fulfilling his manifesto pledge to create a tech talent pipeline in the capital, the Mayor has committed £7 million to this scheme as part of his Skills for Londoners programme. It aims to:

- Plug a growing digital skills shortage in London’s labour market with diverse, home-grown talent

- Promote diversity, including boosting the number of Londoners aged 16-24 from diverse ethnic and disadvantaged backgrounds

- Champion gender equality by increasing the number of women in these roles and encourage industry to take a greater role in developing new talent and recognizing potential.

The programme, funded through London Enterprise Panel and co-funded by the European Social Fund, will offer free industry-approved digital skills training to more than 1,000 young people. From coding and web development to digital marketing and visual effects, the training courses will equip the next generation of Londoners with the digital skills the capital’s employers need.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s thriving digital and tech sector is a world leader. From start-up companies to household names, there’s a huge range of home-grown and international companies here.

“But we need to provide all Londoners with the opportunity to succeed in this industry, particularly women and Londoners of a BAME background who have been under-represented in these fields for too long.

“I’ve been clear about my ambition to make London the world’s leading Smart City, and to provide the next generation of Londoners with the digital skills employers need will help our tech sector flourish. By investing in this new programme and funding free digital skills training, we can encourage more young people to consider a career in tech and fulfil their potential.”

Natalie Campbell, Co-Founder of A Very Good Company and member of the London Enterprise Panel commented: “We know that tech is the fastest growing industry in the UK. 90 per cent of new job roles need digital skills, not just in the tech and digital fields but in the music industry, health care and charities too. Employers tell us how important digital skills are to them and how difficult they are finding it to fill these roles.

“The Mayor’s Digital Talent programme provides an exciting opportunity for young Londoners to gain the skills and experience they need to achieve their dream job or put their business idea into practice.“

Kaisha Barnes, Lead Digital Coach and Community Manager at Freeformers digital training provider added: “I’d say to young women thinking about working in the digital sector: go for it. Do up your portfolio. Have a set of attributes you can provide for employers.

“The knowledge that you have around technology and social platforms is invaluable – have confidence that they actually want you.”

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