This research shows where businesses and government can best support the development of skills in the UK to keep the country amongst the best in the world for tech.Tech skills are highly concentrated in some sectors likely to experience future decline in the UK – pointing to historical industrial specialisation, but also to areas of possible government or employer intervention. In Scotland, the research found a high concentration of members with tech skills in Oil and Energy. Combined with the insight that tech skills are transferable and pervasive across sectors, policy makers should learn from models like Skills Development Scotland’s Oil and Gas Transition Fund to best position workers in sectors that are likely to experience growth in the future, and away from sectors experiencing, or likely to experience decline.
This supports the need for a migration policy system, for non-EEA workers, that enables UK based businesses to hire the best talent, regardless of country of origin. The Tech Nation Talent visa – a sub-route of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa, is a vital component of this system – enabling people with a track record in innovation in a digital tech company, and significant technical, commercial or entrepreneurial contributions to live and work in the UK.
London was among those retaining most of its graduates (67.7% of London University graduates stay in the capital for their first job). Two other regions also stood out with Scotland (also at 68.5%) and Northern Ireland (74.5%) also showing high retention rates. This research therefore highlights a need to address the challenge of tech skilled graduate retention in the UK – the mechanisms by which employers and local policy makers should do this are manifold, and will be explored in the forthcoming Tech Nation Talent Best Practice briefing.
Tech City UK, which will become Tech Nation next year, is committed to improving skills in the digital sector. As Tech Nation it will give more than 40,000 people the opportunity to develop the skills needed to start or grow a digital business in the next few years through its online Digital Business Academy, which offers learners short, bite-sized courses.
There are gaps in our understanding of the skills landscape – Parts 3 and 4 of the Tech Nation Talent series will build our understanding of both supply and demand for skills, and crucially, will show how this information can be used to develop practical responses to the unanswered questions on talent in the UK. Evidence based responses to these big issues will enable the UK to remain in the top tech destinations globally, and develop our strengths as a Tech Nation.