Ron Kalifa: UK’s fintech pole position could be jeopardised by skills gap
Ron Kalifa, who delivered an independent review of UK fintech on behalf of the Treasury earlier this year, has said that the UK has a skills deficit when it comes to technology and data that needs to be addressed so that the country maintains its world-leading position in the sector.
Speaking at an industry event, Kalifa said that the UK is currently a global leader when it comes to fintech.
“We’ve got a 10 per cent global market share […] and the amount of money that has been invested in the UK is enormous,” he said. “It’s much more than any other European country – in fact it’s larger than the next four countries put together.”
But he warned that when it comes to the UK tech ecosystem, there is a “gap” where some skills are missing that could threaten the industry’s continued evolution.
“We have got quite a lot to do in terms of skills and talent,” he said.
“If you look at a global league table of business skills, technology skills, data skills, we’re not at the top of the league table […] We’re quite a long way down.”
The author of the eponymous Kalifa Review into the UK fintech sector said the government had taken several steps to act on “99 per cent” of the recommendations he’d submitted, but called on universities and colleges to work more closely with fintech companies to establish what skills are needed for the workplace.
“If we don’t address this for ourselves, we’re going to have a problem in five to ten years time and we’ll not be able to compete on a global stage,” he warned.
Kalifa also made the observation that this skills gap tends not to be a problem in UK startups at early stage, but that challenges emerge further down the line once they’ve scaled to Series C-plus stage.