The United Kingdom is a global technology leader.  For example, the UK ranks third in the world for investment and innovation in artificial intelligence (AI), according to a report by the British media company Tortoise.  However, businesses in the UK are anxious about how “Brexit,” or the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union, will affect them.

A Bright Future for UK Tech

Perhaps they need not worry. A study released in January 2020 by Dealroom and Tech Nation found that technology startups in the UK received $13.2 billion in venture capital in 2019, up from $9.1 billion in 2018.  Of that total, AI startups in the UK attracted $3.2 billion in venture capital funding in 2019, up from $2.6 billion in 2018.  This increase happened even as the UK was worrying about whether and when Brexit would take place. Venture capitalist Matt Miller of Sequoia Capital has said, “We’ve found that great companies find a way to navigate through uncertainty.”

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Talent Availability Is a Potential Bottleneck

This robust environment in the UK for AI development has created local demand for, and supply of, AI technology talent.  A potential obstacle for these firms is the already tight UK labor market for technology workers. In a survey by staffing firm Robert Half International, a majority of CIOs in the UK plan to hire more full-time or contract technology workers.  The demand is exceptionally high for workers in IT security, IT operations & management, and business intelligence.

This demand has shifted the thinking of local technology graduates. Matt Miller of Sequoia Capital observes that AI engineers graduating from top UK universities such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and Imperial College London increasingly want to stay in the UK rather than emigrate to Silicon Valley in the US.  “There is a very deep bench of talent coming from the outstanding universities in the UK,” Mr. Miller says.

On the other hand, uncertainty over whether nationals of EU countries will require visas to work in the UK after Brexit has made recruiting technology talent from the EU more complicated for UK firms.  UK recruiters have measured a decrease in the net movement of European workers into the UK over the past few years, and this impacts the IT sector.

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Ensuring a Supply of Job-ready Tech Talent

One step toward addressing the talent shortage is encouraging continued immigration of skilled workers.  The trade group Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development wants UK officials to develop a flexible immigration system for skilled workers and minimum salary standards to ensure that comparable jobs pay foreign workers the same as UK workers.

Another step is the expansion of technology skills training.  The retention of university graduates in technology in the UK helps, but it’s not nearly adequate to fill all of the openings in this growing sector.  Reskilling and upskilling can help increase the supply of qualified technology talent to meet the technology sector’s growing demand for workers.

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Blended Learning for Reskilling and Upskilling Workers

If you are a British firm -- or a firm in any country -- you should be worried about where you will find sufficient technology workers to keep your business moving forward.  Consider establishing programs to reskill some of your non-technology workers and to upskill your current technology workers to meet the demands of emerging technologies.  Reskilling and upskilling are often less expensive and much easier than recruiting, and onboarding new technology workers, and they often improve job satisfaction and retention rates among your existing workforce.  

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Simplilearn provides a cloud-based blended learning environment that gives your employees both instructional materials and actual interactions with instructors and teaching assistants.  Because the learning environment is entirely online, learners can access it from their office or home on their schedules, and they can control the pace of learning to match their styles and ability levels.

For you, as an employer, blended learning is scalable and cost-efficient because you can tailor it to the exact number of learners and types of courses you need to match their skills to your future needs.  Simplilearn partners with educational institutions like Purdue University and with industry leaders like IBM to ensure that our courses will give your employees a strong base of fundamentals and prepare them to apply their skills in their real-world work.

Simplilearn can assist you in creating a program suitable for your workforce and your business goals.  You can learn more at our Corporate Training page.

About the Author

Stuart CrequeStuart Creque

Stuart is a storyteller, with a foundation in technology, marketing, and management. He tells business stories in the form of content that means something to both external clients and internal team. He has written, produced and directed short films and written the feature film The Last Earth Girl.

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