Boris targets youth digital skills in London


London mayor Boris Johnson has launched a new £5m programme aiming to boost young Londoners’ digital skills to access jobs in the capital’s thriving technology sector.

The city’s information technology workforce is expected to grow by 30 per cent between 2012 and 2022 to 274,000 people.

The number of digital technology companies in the capital is also increasing, growing by 46 per cent in the last five years to around 40,000 businesses and forecast to rise to 51,500 by 2025.

Skills lagging behind

However, the Mayor is keen to tackle the emerging gap between the skills young Londoners have or are being equipped with and what employers say they need in order to sustain London’s growth.

He also wants to increase the number of women taking up jobs in the sector, with women currently making up just a third of the tech workforce.

The new Digital Talent Programme, which has been launched in partnership with the London Enterprise Panel (LEP) will ensure that young Londoners aged 14 to 24 are best placed to take advantage of the capital’s tech boom and inspire a generation to access jobs in the digital technology industry.

It will also look to open up pathways between businesses and colleges so tech companies are able to select the young people with the skills they need to help them flourish.

Digital Talent Programme’s key function:

• Establishing a London Digital Talent Pipeline to inspire more young Londoners to access jobs requiring digital skills. The pipeline will be designed by a board of key employers who will define the skills needed to work in the sector and engage schools and further education colleges to help them develop their curriculum to meet those needs. It is expected that this will lead to the creation of 2,000 new learning places and will deliver 1,000 young Londoners into digital jobs. It will also offer higher level digital skills training to university students from disadvantaged groups.

• Increasing the number of places for people aged 16 and over at further education colleges so that young Londoners can study industry-designed and endorsed digital short courses that are going to lead to a job. This will see five new or enhanced digital learning hubs within the capital with new kit provided to ensure industry-standard training facilities.

• With a recent survey from O2 revealing that 23 per cent of parents believe digital skills to be irrelevant to their children, the new initiative will also launch an awareness campaign to increase the knowledge of paths into digital careers.

The mayor said: “London is a hotbed of top technological innovation, brimming with creative minds who are helping to boost the capital’s economy and that of the whole country.

“However, it is absolutely vital that we nurture our tech stars of the future and make sure that our deep reserves of talent do not run dry.

“This new scheme will help London to remain ahead of the game when it comes to tech and give thousands of young Londoners the chance to share in the city’s economic success.”

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