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Building the local skills base for digital entrepreneurship: Lessons from London Building the local skills base for digital entrepreneurship: Lessons from London

“How does the city invest in the skills and businesses required for innovation”

 

Building the local skills base for digital entrepreneurship: Lessons from London

Access to a skilled workforce is a vital factor for any business considering where to locate their operations. City governments have different abilities to affect their local talent base, due to varying levels of influence over local curriculums, higher education options and visa requirements.

However, cities are increasingly using their convening power to shape and develop their local skills base to remain relevant in a rapidly changing digital world.

Building the local skills base for digital entrepreneurship: Lessons from London

Access to a skilled workforce is a vital factor for any business considering where to locate their operations. City governments have different capacities to affect their local talent base, due to varying levels of influence over local curriculums, higher education options and visa requirements.

However, cities are increasingly using their convening power to shape and develop their local skills base to remain relevant in a rapidly changing digital world. This enables cities and employers to invest directly in their citizens’ skills development and provide flexible channels to employment. The economic benefits to the city are two-fold: increasing employability of citizens and attracting companies who need access to those skills.

Evidence points to a strong return on investments in apprenticeship schemes. In the London region alone organisations saw an aggregate net benefit in 2012/2013 of £202 million, with the average net benefit per apprentice in London at £2,261. At the national level, research has shown that apprenticeships contributed £34 billion to the UK economy in 2014.

London sponsoring technology apprenticeships for local students

In London, apprenticeships are at the heart of the city’s drive to equip young people with the skills that employers need to grow and compete, such as London’s technology apprenticeships.

The Jobs and Growth Plan for London seeks to ensure that Londoners have the STEM skills that firms need. To achieve this, the GLA have committed to doubling the number of science and tech apprenticeships by 2016, with at least half of this increase coming from apprenticeships from SMEs.

To implement this policy goal, London sponsors designated technology apprenticeship schemes for young people between the ages of 16 and 23 who have few qualifications and who have not progressed to higher education.

The apprenticeships provide participants with the business skills and specialist skills in web and software development, ICT and networking, or digital marketing. The apprentices work with local employers to gain National Vocational Awards, as well as invaluable work experience. The schemes are delivered by industry-led bodies such as Tech Up Nation and Tech City Stars to give young Londoners the skills and opportunities needed to shape the future of London’s technology growth and evolution.

For example, run by the Mayor’s Fund for London, Tech Up Nation aims to reach 50,000 young people in disadvantaged communities across all of London. Recognising that the tech industry in is one of the fastest growing, yet relies on imported rather than locally grown talent, the programme aims to provide local students with digital apprenticeships that lead to employment, providing experience and exposure for future tech leaders and a locally grown talent pool. The programme also aims to source 1,500 jobs over three years for unemployed young Londoners.

Centre for Economics and Business Research, ‘The value of apprentices: A report for the Association of Accounting technicians’, (March, 2014), p. 4.

Centre for Economics and Business Research, ‘Economic Impact of Apprenticeships: A Cebr report for the Skills Funding Agency’, (November, 2014), p. 10.