Mayor launches fund to nurture tech stars of the future

05 November 2015

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today launched a new £5m programme that aims to ensure young Londoners have the digital skills they need to access jobs in London’s thriving technology sector.


London is widely regarded as the most important tech hub in Europe, and 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.*


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.


The Mayor of London and Chairman of the LEP, Boris Johnson MP, 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.”


The Digital Talent Programme will boost the number of young people finding employment in the tech sector by:


  • 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.

In a related move, the Mayor and LEP have also announced a £50,000 scheme to deliver Digital Careers Roadshow in Barking and Dagenham, Enfield, Greenwich, Tower Hamlets and Ealing. It is expected that this initiative will create at least 250 jobs and apprenticeships at 50 of the capital’s tech companies.


The programme will also train 100 Job Centre workers to become ‘Tech Mentors’ so that they have a better understanding of the tech sector, its skills requirements and how to spot potential recruits.


The Digital Talent Programme is being launched by the Mayor and the LEP following a successful bid to Government in January 2015 as part of the LEP’s Growth Deal. The Fund forms part of the Mayor’s work to boost the capital’s economy and supports the LEP’s ongoing work to make the city’s skills system more responsive to the skills needs of businesses.


Lucy Haynes, CBI London Director, said: “The technology and creative sectors have shot up the ladder as some of the fastest-growing sectors in London, with many businesses seeing them as holding the key to the capital’s future growth. To make sure we remain globally competitive, it’s vital that young Londoners have the skills and the knowledge to grow the city’s economy in the twenty-first century. We welcome the Mayor’s digital talent programme, and encourage firms to play as full a part as possible in it.”


Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “It is crucial that young Londoners are equipped with the digital skills businesses need to succeed in today’s economy. This initiative will help ensure that young people can take advantage of, and enhance, London's status as the tech hub of Europe”


The Mayor continues to ensure that the capital’s schoolchildren are also given the digital skills they need to succeed. He has invested more than £1.5m into computing in schools through his London Schools Excellence Fund delivering computer skills to almost 500 schools and nearly 50,000 pupils.


The London Enterprise Panel has also commissioned a Computing Curriculum guide for Primary and Secondary schools to help school Senior Leaders embed the new computing curriculum and prepare young learners effectively for the future workplace.


In the meantime, every single library in the capital is set to have free wi-fi access by March 2016 as part of the Arts Council’s WiFi in Public Libraries in England fund. The will help to unlock further opportunities for libraries to extend their services, tackling digital exclusion, leading to growth in digital skills and enabling the development of new partnerships that will benefit local residents and citizens.

Notes to editors

According to the UK Forum for Computing Education (UKForCE) over half of the UK's workforce of 30 million people is in an occupation requiring the ability to use complex digital systems to solve business problems, or directly involved in building digital technology. This could mean as many as 3.25m occupations in London requiring a high level of digital skills by 2022.

* Oxford Economics: Digital Technology In London, June 2015

The definition of digital technology uses the standard Office of National Statistics definition. Further information can be found here  


The Digital Careers Roadshow will be delivered by Techmix Magazine.


The London Enterprise Panel (LEP) is the local enterprise partnership for London. Chaired by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, the LEP is the body through which the Mayoralty works with London’s boroughs, business and Transport for London to take a strategic view of the regeneration, employment and skills agenda for London. The LEP is responsible for overseeing the allocation of over £400m of funding to drive jobs and growth in the capital and provides strategic oversight of London’s €1.5 billion European Structural & Investment Funds programme.


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