Mission 4: Enhance digital leadership and skills

London’s economy is becoming increasingly digital and requires a workforce with a new set of skills. Data innovation, AI and the Internet of Things are having an influence on how we work, the demand for skills and the automation of tasks. Alongside upskilling citizens, better digital leadership at all levels of public services will be required in areas such as transformation, cyber-security and data. 

To achieve these goals London needs to make the most of the opportunities afforded through the apprenticeship levy alongside collaboration with the Government Digital Service (GDS) and central government departments and agencies, as well as its own initiatives. 

The Mayor’s new responsibility for skills, set out the in the new Skills for Londoners Strategy, proposes significant investment in the skills Londoners need.

The Mayor is starting with the following initiatives: 

  • enhance digital and data leadership to make public services more open to innovation
  • develop workforce digital capability through the Mayor’s Skills Strategy
  • support computing skills and the digital talent pipeline from early years onwards
  • recognise the role of cultural institutions engaging citizens in the digital world around them

Public service digital and data leadership

The Mayor will use his investment in digital leadership training to share lessons learnt with the Local Government Association (LGA), GDS and the NHS academy. We hope to extend digital leadership and skills (eg data analytics) across London’s workforce and will scope this as part of our proposed LOTI work (see below).

The breadth and pace of digital change means that capacity within organisations to understand, develop and implement new digital approaches is stretched. Addressing this requires leadership across London’s public services. This does not mean that leaders must be IT or data experts. But leaders that have a basic understanding will make more informed, effective decisions and make sure that their services are able to respond to how technology is changing Londoners’ life chances and expectations.

We have already started with our own digital leadership programme in City Hall with Doteveryone. At the end of this programme, we will publish open source guidance, content and resources for other organisations to use. We will then share the results to inform future competitive procurement of such services for new cohorts of public sector leaders. The public sector leaders on these programmes will be expected to come together to form a code of practice once there is a critical mass of trained leaders. The next step is to develop a pan-London digital leadership offer in conjunction with the GDS Digital Academy and other central government initiatives. 

Develop digital capability

Levy - The Mayor will review how existing digital apprenticeship standards meet the skills needs of the public sector and take the lead in creating new standards as appropriate. 

Basic digital skills - The Mayor will develop basic digital skills training through the devolved Adult Education Budget and the European Social Fund to support Londoners who are seeking employment or in-work progression.

It is crucial that the opportunities and benefits of technological advancements are felt by all Londoners. Employment in London’s digital technology sector is predicted to grow by almost a fifth over the next ten years. It is vital that we give Londoners opportunities in digital education and learning at all stages of life. The Mayor is supporting Londoners attain the skills they need for the growing number of tech jobs through the Skills for Londoners Strategy.  

The £800m annual apprenticeship levy spent in London provides the capital with a significant opportunity to upskill its workforce with the digital skills needed in today’s economy. Currently, the GLA Group can directly contribute to a digitally-enabled workforce through its own approach to workforce planning and development. For example, TfL has taken an active role in developing a number of digital apprenticeship standards which are now available for use. However, in common with other employers, we have been calling for additional flexibilities to meet the ever-evolving needs of both employers and individuals.


As well as creating pathways into work, the levy has the potential to be used as a means to up-skill or re-skill individuals who are seeking a career change or entering the workforce after a break (such as women returners and army veterans). This is especially relevant to the digital and STEM sectors in London, which face major skills and apprenticeship qualifications gaps. By reshaping the apprenticeship levy into a Skills Levy, as called for by the Mayor, London government would have the ability to gear training towards the high-growth sectors of the economy.

Alongside the apprenticeship levy, significant opportunities have been provided through devolution. From 2019 the Adult Education Budget (AEB) in London will be devolved. This allows City Hall to have control over where learning will be prioritised - from 2020, adult Londoners who lack basic digital skills will be entitled to free training. Alongside this entitlement, we are developing wraparound support through the European Social Fund, such as childcare or transportation costs, to Londoners seeking higher level digital skills training. These programmes will support Londoners who are unemployed or in low-paid jobs. 

Computing from early years and the Talent Pipeline

Computing initiatives - The Mayor will continue to invite partners to develop new coding skills among our young people before they are eligible as 16-year olds for the Digital Talent Programme. City Hall will also work with government in the London element of the National Centre for Computing to maximise investment. 

Digital Talent Programme - The Mayor will develop further links with tech forms to increase the benefit of the £7million investment in digital talent.

The GLA also has a role in brokering partnerships with the many formal and informal digital learning initiatives aimed at young or school-age Londoners, so digital understanding can begin at an early age. We are engaging with primary teachers to introduce coding skills early. In collaboration with LEGO and the Institute of Imagination, more than 3,000 primary students are getting hands-on with the RE:CODE London coding challenge throughout 2018. The Mayor also champions coding in the capital through his London Curriculum. Central government is spending £100m on a National Centre for Computing to train 8,000 new teachers. We aim to work with providers and the tech sector to develop exciting new initiatives with teacher training in our schools. 


Over 3,000 primary students are getting hands-on with the RE:CODE London coding challenge throughout 2018

The Mayor’s vision of a tech talent pipeline continues with the recent launch of the Digital Talent Programme. With six coding bootcamps already underway, three further initiatives to develop the digital skills of young Londoners aged 16-24 will be launched throughout the year. The programme links with tech sector employers across the capital, and aims to lead to meaningful employment.

Role of cultural institutions engaging citizens  

Technology and culture – We will explore how cultural institutions, including the new Museum of London being built at Smithfield Market, can promote greater understanding of Londoners about the smart technologies and data shaping their lives.
Cultural institutions have an important role to play in promoting public discussion and understanding about the role of data and technology in people’s lives. Digital technologies shape people’s experience and environment but are often ‘invisible’ to them as they go about their daily lives. The Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition, the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend, and the City Now City Future season at the Museum of London in 2017-18 are examples of how cultural institutions can play a vital role in promoting greater understanding among citizens of all ages. New ways they can do this range from interactive games to increasing use of AR and VR to tell stories from the past.

The Mayor-funded London Games Festival showcases the ubiquity of the city’s video games industry. Not just as gaming entertainment, but also for crossover technologies which aid learning through the latest VR and immersive tech in science, public art and education.

Share this page