It is no secret that the London tech industry is one of the most important economic drivers of growth in the British capital. While other industry sectors are still struggling to overcome the negative effects caused by the recession, the technology sector is alive and kicking. This industry is certainly swimming against the flow, and instead of downsizing or cutting down on personnel, many tech firms are actually creating new and much-needed job opportunities. A few weeks ago, some of the most important players in the tech sector announced that they were ready to take on nearly 2,000 apprentices. But before we delve into the details of this announcement, let us take a look at the most recent performance of the capital’s tech industry.
A quick overview of the tech sector in London
Over the past decade, London has managed to establish itself as one of the world’s top tech hubs. What initially began as a small cluster of tech companies around Old Street has now become the European equivalent of Silicon Valley. Today, more than 5,000 tech companies are located in London’s Tech City, and many more are constantly being set up in other areas of the British capital. A recent Oxford Economics report has shown that the tech industry is expected to experience annual growth levels of more than 5 per cent during the next decade, bringing its total value to over £12 billion.
Growth in this sector is being driven by partnerships between top-class educational and research institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors. As a result, training and education are becoming crucial growth factors in this sector, so the recently announced large apprentice intake should not come as a surprise.
Where will the opportunities be?
Some of the top firms that have committed to this scheme include Microsoft, British Airways, IBM, Capgemini, and Virgin Media. Approximately 60 per cent of the apprenticeship opportunities will be provided by Microsoft and by firms that are part of this company’s supply chain. British Airways, IBM, Capgemini, and Virgin Media have committed to taking 200 apprentices each. Opportunities to train in IT will also be offered by Cisco, BT, Accenture, the Test Factory, and John Lewis.
In March 2014, the Minister of State for Skills & Enterprise announced that the new IT apprenticeships were soon to become a reality that would “become the new norm for all ambitious young people and employers who are dedicated to growing their own talent and increasing the skills base of the nation”. Moreover, this scheme will help debunk a common myth about apprenticeships, which have traditionally been considered to be the exclusive domain of manual and blue collar occupations.
It is expected that the new apprenticeship scheme will help consolidate the growth of London’s tech sector by addressing some of the key challenges faced this industry. For example, a recent Tech London Advocates survey showed that shortage of skills is a real problem in many tech firms, as approximately 43 per cent of those interviewed listed shortage of talent as one of their top concerns. What is more, all the companies interviewed (which are among the fastest-growing in this sector) confirmed that they had up to seven vacancies each that were hard to fill. The tech industry as a whole is expected to create 46,000 new jobs by 2024, so IT apprentices will surely play a key role in the future development of this sector.