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London's tech sector 'hampered by talent shortage'

News | Shortage | Talent | London

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A shortage of talent is one of the biggest threats to London's growing technology sector.

Research carried out by private sector group London Tech Advocates found 43 per cent of its members felt the skills gap is the most serious problem facing the industry. A further ten per cent were concerned with immigration legislation.

The organisation questioned a selection of the capital's fastest-growing technology businesses about the challenges they faced in terms of recruitment. Nearly all of those surveyed reported difficulties, despite the fact they had an average of seven open vacancies.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, stated that although the government has gone some way to alleviate the skills shortage problem, more is still needed to be done. He called on ministers to further encourage young people to take up science, technology, education and maths subjects, and to develop new ways to endorse digital skills.

Tight restrictions concerning immigration were also viewed as a major threat to the industry. Tech London Advocates' study highlighted the case of SwiftKey, a rising software company involved in predictive typing and the challenges it faces in terms of recruitment.

It is a diverse business, where employees speak tens of languages. However, it often finds it has to wait months to hire highly-skilled migrant workers, as a result of the UK's complex visa process. According to the report, this is simply too long for businesses operating in the sector.

Dan Crow, chief technology officer at music website Songkick, commented: "There is a deep pool of highly experienced people in Silicon Valley. We've managed to tempt a few of them to London, but we've also lost some very promising employees because it is so hard for Americans to get work visas for the UK."

Meanwhile, Russ Shaw claimed London's tech industry is now on track to take its place on the world stage this year. Although it is coming extremely close to achieving this goal, he warned if the government does not do anything to solve these problems, any potential growth could be seriously stunted. 

 


Posted by Jon Aspinell on 24th April 2014

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