As we moved into the second half of London Tech Week, focus shifted from the trends witnessed over the last year, to what we can expect from the future.
One issue in particular was exploring what is in store for the future of work.
The demand for people with the skills capable of facilitating the digital transformation needed for the workplaces of tomorrow is rapidly increasing.
Last year, there were regularly 100,000 job vacancies each month in UK-based tech roles, with some roles witnessing exponential growth in demand. According to figures from GlobalData, the number of advertised data analyst roles has surged by 214 per cent since January 2021, with a 143 per cent increase in postings for information systems managers.
At yesterday’s Future of Work Summit at The Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster, we heard how the world of work has changed beyond recognition in the last two years. Leaders and businesses were forced to shift their focus and emphasis, firstly to changing government guidelines and then more recently to how they would proceed with the digital transformation necessitated by the pandemic.
Businesses which have survived the digital transformation process along with adopting the cloud and a startup mentality will now be far stronger for it.
Tech companies face the welcome challenge of more demand in the marketplace. The global semiconductor chip shortage tells us that demand for the products dependent on chips – smartphones, games consoles, gadgets – is on the rise. This bodes well for many tech sector businesses as they identify solutions to solve demand and drive growth over the coming months and years.
I’ve noticed a pattern with the CTOs and CIOs I’ve been speaking to before and during London Tech Week. Many of them have been planning budgets for the coming years and are having to find a balance between investment in physical space and investment in IT infrastructure.
It is not just how we work that is changing, but also where we do it. Big companies are starting to recognise the value of adopting a startup mentality, with some bringing startups and dynamic businesses into their physical spaces so they can learn from each other.
It’s an extremely exciting time of innovation and dynamic growth. There is opportunity for the tech sector to be even more dynamic and ambitious in setting up the workplaces of the future.
One potential barrier to the industry continuing to grow and develop innovative workplaces is access to diverse talent, which has been repeatedly discussed throughout London Tech Week. With London and the UK no longer part of the EU, schemes like the Global Talent Visa and the new Scaleup Visa take on even greater importance in reducing barriers for talent to move from one country to another.
Diverse talent is particularly important when it comes to fields like AI, data and machine-learning. The datasets built over the past years – inadvertently – contain inherent bias, largely serving white men at the expense of other groups. As more data is crunched, the bias within will be extrapolated to a new generation of products and services. We desperately need talent from underrepresented groups to counter this.
With growth in tech employment off the charts, we also urgently require more people with digital skills. Opportunities in the digital economy are set to continue to grow, while simultaneously shrinking in traditional fields, where companies will not be recruiting for high growth in the immediate future. Instead, digital transformation is set to automate many back office and support roles.
People displaced by these changes can find their home in the tech sector. With the right reskilling and retraining, the industry can continue to grow and lead the way in building the diverse, innovative workplaces of tomorrow.