London is reaching breaking point when it comes to tech talent

Russ Shaw
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Tuesday was the second day of London Technology Week events (Source: Getty)

After the fanfare of yesterday’s launch, the second day of London Technology Week has taken a long, hard look at the challenges and strengths of the capital’s digital industries.

The truth is that whilst celebration attracts investment, the long-term success of technology will only be secured by united action from the private sector to address the residual roadblocks we still face.

Ford addresses this in their impressive event today on smart mobility, showing the power of the private sector to harness data for the benefit of all, as CityMapper have done with TfL.

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The headline event for Tuesday was Tech Talent: Developing our Future, hosted by online developer community, Stack Overflow at the iMAX in Waterloo. Looking at ways for London to continue increasing its developer talent, the event starkly highlighted the need for developers in the city.

A report from Stack Overflow showed that, whilst London boasts more than 325,000 developers, the cost of living in the capital is still forcing coders to move to cheaper cities across Europe.

This trend cannot continue. The job search engine, Adzuna, shows that there are currently at least 30,000 live vacancies in London for software roles. Baroness Lane-Fox has recently predicted this will rise to one million across the UK by 2020.

Tech London Advocates regularly asks members the single biggest threat facing the success of the capital’s tech sector and the answer is always a shortage of talent. The Mayor of London has committed to the creation of a Tech Talent Pipeline based on the model operating in New York but the private sector needs to work more closely with schools, apprenticeship schemes and colleges to share expertise and bring more Londoners into digital careers.

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The need for talent is not only increasing but intensifying, due to the diversification of London’s digital specialisms. I spent the afternoon at the TLA Healthtech event at City Hall where leading figures from MedCity joined healthtech entrepreneurs to discuss the rise of the sector and the digital transformation taking place within the NHS.

Healthtech is just one of the emerging verticals experiencing extraordinary growth. On Day Three the TLA CreativeTech working group will host members of the Creative Industries Federation at the Digital Catapult to celebrate the tech companies disrupting advertising, music and film. There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs to bring new efficiencies to traditional industries but they require niche specialisms and industry-specific understanding.

Behind the headline figures of London Technology Week we shouldn’t lose sight of a simple fact – London is reaching breaking point when it comes to tech talent. The need for digital skills is testament to the rapid growth of the industry, but if it isn’t addressed it could undermine the future of tech companies in the capital and across the UK.

London Technology Week acts as a reminder to everyone employed by the tech sector that we all have a responsibility to bring friends, family and young people into the sector.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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