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Sadiq Khan launches new £7million programme to unearth London’s digital talent

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has launched a new initiative to find and develop London’s next generation of home-grown tech talent.

 Sadiq Khan launching his new scheme 

The scheme, launched at Bloomberg’s new European headquarters in London last night, is designed to inspire young people to join London’s booming digital, tech and creative industries.

It also aims tackle the under-representation of women and BAME (Black Asian & Minority Ethnic) Londoners in the sector, and to address a growing digital skills shortage in the capital.

Khan said: “London’s thriving digital and tech sector is a world leader. From start-up companies to household names, there are a huge range of home-grown and international companies here.

“But we need to provide all Londoners with the opportunity to succeed in this industry, particularly women and Londoners of a BAME background who have been under-represented in these fields for too long.

“I’ve been clear about my ambition to make London the world’s leading Smart City, and to provide the next generation of Londoners with the digital skills employers need that will help our tech sector flourish.

“By investing in this new programme and funding free digital skills training, we can encourage more young people to consider a career in tech and fulfil their potential.”

At the launch, a free creative careers event curated by ERIC Festival, young Londoners looking to embark on careers in the digital and tech fields met with a variety of leading businesses – including Google, Amazon and Bloomberg. Free training workshops also took place.

The scheme is a major step towards fulfilling Khan’s manifesto pledge to create a tech talent pipeline in the capital, with £7 million committed as part of his Skills for Londoners programme.

It aims to plug a growing digital skills shortage in London’s labour market with home-grown talent, promote diversity in the sector, champion gender equality by increasing the number of women in these roles, and encourage the industry to take a greater role in developing new talent and recognising potential.

The programme will offer free industry-approved digital skills training, including in coding, web development, digital marketing and visual effects, to more than 1,000 young people.

It will also offer training for 400 teachers and training providers, in order to improve their digital skills and confidence.

Natalie Campbell 

Natalie Campbell, Co-Founder of A Very Good Company and member of the London Enterprise Panel, said: “We know that tech is the fastest growing industry in the UK. 90% of new job roles need digital skills, not just in the tech and digital fields but in the music industry, health care and charities too. Employers tell us how important digital skills are to them and how difficult they are finding it to fill these roles.

“The Mayor’s Digital Talent programme provides an exciting opportunity for young Londoners to gain the skills and experience they need to achieve their dream job or put their business idea into practice.“

Kaisha Barnes, Lead Digital Coach and Community Manager at Freeformers digital training provider, said: “I’d say to young women thinking about working in the digital sector: go for it. Do up your portfolio. Have a set of attributes you can provide for employers.

“The knowledge that you have around technology and social platforms is invaluable – have confidence that they actually want you.”

Image credits: Mayor of London 

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