A million tech jobs? The race is on to define London’s digital future

Jun 11, 2018 · cityam.com

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Guest post from Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates for CityAM.

London is a city defined by numbers: 11 tube lines whisk us across the capital with ease and efficiency, 22 football stadiums attract spectators every weekend, 40,000 Ubers offer us a comfortable ride home, and 100 languages are spoken in every borough, creating the greatest melting pot in the world.

The city must now strive to add another number on the board: one million people employed in the capital’s booming tech industry by 2023.

From DeepMind and TransferWise to Deliveroo and Improbable, London is home to a host of innovative companies that are transforming the global tech landscape. But despite these success stories and the obvious economic strength of the sector, there are currently only 300,000 digital tech jobs in London, according to the latest Tech Nation Report.

This is nowhere near good enough, especially for an economy that will be underpinned by digital in the near future.

Steps must now be taken to increase that number year-on-year, until we reach the magic figure of one million – it’s an ambitious goal, but one that is necessary and definitely worth pursuing, as it will bring significant benefits and future-proof our economy.

Immigration circumstances will play a key role here. Britain’s ability to attract and bring in top talent from across the world should be a set objective – it’s the fuel that helps to ignite the fire of the startup economy.

Product managers, software developers, engineers and data analysts, to name but a few, are valuable assets to our economy, and their significance will only increase over time.

Tech’s lucrative position in the economy means that the government must address this through a new immigration policy. The current visa system is restrictive to the growth of the tech sector and is simply not adequate. Britain must convey a message of an open nation where talent and ability create your fortunes, rather than the odds of falling into a visa bracket.

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